On May 19, 2016, a federal judge in Florida denied the National Football League Alumni Association’s (NFLAA) motion for judgement on the pleadings in a lawsuit accusing the NFLAA of cutting Earl Christy out of consulting fees after he helped a developer obtain the NFLAA’s endorsement.
Christy, a former kickoff returner and defensive back for the New York Jets, entered into a consulting agreement with Tampa developer and attorney, Mark Bouldin. Bouldin represents Validus Senior Living, a provider of “a complete continuum of leading-edge senior living services.” Christy introduced and connected Bouldin to NFLAA President Joe Pisarcik for the purpose of Bouldin obtaining the NFLAA’s endorsement to build assisted living centers. In exchange, Christy claims he was to receive $3,000 per month per each assisted living facility built that had the written endorsement of the NFLAA, in addition to a flat fee of $3,000 per month. In sum, Christy was to receive approximately $1.15 million each year.
Bouldin and the NFLAA cut Christy out of the deal, and eventually entered into a separate joint venture agreement. The joint venture agreement between the NFLAA and Bouldin would allow for “the development and marketing of thirty-three assisted living facilities in NFL cities, using [the] NFLAA’s brand.”
In his lawsuit, Christy alleged that “when the NFLAA discovered the existence of the consulting agreement, the NFLAA sent an email [to Bouldin] purporting to withdraw from the deal if Christy remained associated with the consulting agreement.” Christy claimed the NFLAA intentionally and unjustifiably interfered with his rights under the consulting agreement by leveraging him out of the deal and preventing him from receiving the consulting fees which he was owed. In his complaint, Christy sought damages based upon the NFLAA’s alleged tortious interference with the contractual relationship between Christy and Bouldin.
In February of 2016, the NFLAA filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings in an attempt to shoot down claims in the lawsuit. Christy responded that the NFLAA’s argument relied upon a narrow reading of the disputed agreement. The federal judge in Florida agreed, refusing to end the lawsuit.