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Ross v. Davis

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

November 21, 2014

KAL ROSS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
VERNON DAVIS, et al., Defendants

For KAL ROSS, KAL ROSS AGENCY, LLC, Plaintiffs: Carlton Odim, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, ODIM LAW OFFICES, Chicago, IL; Stephanie L. Johnson, LEAD ATTORNEY, HUNTER & JOHNSON, PLLC, Washington, DC.

For VERNON DAVIS, Defendant: Donald M. Temple, DONALD M. TEMPLE, P.C., Washington, DC.

Page 232

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES E. BOASBERG, United States District Judge.

Although Defendant Vernon Davis has forged a successful career as an all-pro tight end for the San Francisco 49ers, he

Page 233

has not been able to elude the grasp of Plaintiffs Kal Ross and his eponymous sports agency. Plaintiffs filed the instant Complaint in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on July 15, 2014, alleging breach of contract by Davis and his financial advisor, co-Defendant Amadou Tall. Ross asserts that he and Davis entered into an agreement pursuant to which Ross, for a 15% cut, would have the exclusive right to negotiate an advertising and promotion deal between Davis and Jamba Juice, a popular restaurant retailer. Ross claims that after he negotiated a preliminary arrangement with Jamba Juice, Tall stepped in and usurped the deal, depriving Ross of his percentage. Plaintiffs seek to recover compensatory and punitive damages in an amount in excess of $250,000. Noting the amount in controversy and the complete diversity of citizenship among the parties, Davis removed the case to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

This is not the first time Plaintiffs have brought these claims against these Defendants. On the contrary, they filed a substantively identical suit in the Northern District of California in March 2013. Only after several months of litigation, and after Defendants filed two dispositive motions, did Plaintiffs voluntarily dismiss the action and re-file it in the District of Columbia. Noting the costs that such maneuvers impose, as well as the contradictions apparent on the face of Plaintiffs' various pleadings, Defendant Davis now seeks transfer of this case to the Northern District of California. As the Court agrees that such transfer is in the interest of justice, it will grant his Motion.

I. Background

The following factual account is derived, in the main, from the Complaint that Plaintiffs Ross and his agency filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, which now, post-removal, serves as the basis for this suit. Where relevant, certain filings from Plaintiffs' prior lawsuit in the Northern District of California are also cited.

Plaintiff The Kal Ross Agency is a limited liability company organized under the laws of the District of Columbia that characterizes itself as an " Agent and Manager for Artists, Athletes, Entertainers, and Other Public Figures." D.C. Compl., ¶ 2. Plaintiff Ross, a resident of the District of Columbia, is the Agency's sole member. See id., ¶ 3. Defendant Davis plays football for the San Francisco 49ers, a National Football League franchise. See id., ¶ 4. Defendant Tall, an employee of Invictus Executive Management Services, LLC, is Davis's current financial advisor. See id., ¶ 5. Both are residents of California. See id., ¶ ¶ 4, 5.

According to Plaintiffs, Ross and Davis conversed on numerous occasions in October 2011 via both telephone and e-mail. See id., ¶ 6. Those conversations eventually resulted in Ross's " offering his services in negotiating advertising and promotion deals for Davis, particularly with the Jamba Juice Company," a restaurant chain incorporated and headquartered in California. See id. Plaintiffs claim that, with Davis's knowledge, Ross entered into " a 50/50 partnership" with a " Marketing Agent," Andrew Stroth, for the " sole purpose of identifying, vetting and negotiating advertising and promotion deals for Davis." Id., ¶ ¶ 7, 10.

Ross and Stroth proceeded to make contact with Jamba Juice via its representative in the District of Columbia, Jarvis Stewart. See id., ΒΆ 11. " After multiple discussions and negotiation[s] in Washington, D.C.[,] between . . . Ross, Stroth, and Stewart, . . . Ross and Stroth informed Davis that an advertising and promotion deal for him with Jamba Juice looked ...


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