The pending lawsuit between the Razorback Foundation and former Arkansas soccer coach Bret Bielema over whether he is entitled to $ 7 million under a buyout clause for a failed loss mitigation obligation has only turned to the ugly. On November 3, Bielema and his agent Neil Cornrich (also party to the lawsuit) filed a crushing 15-page motion for Rule 11 sanction against the defendant / counter-plaintiff, the Razorback Foundation.
“This joint application for sanctions under Rule 11 is nothing short of extraordinary,” begins the introductory section of the pleading. “Not once in his 200 years of collective experience has one of the undersigned lawyers filed a Rule 11 motion against a lawyer. In addition, most of the undersigned attorneys had previously had professional relationships with opposing attorneys, some of whom were former colleagues in a law firm and a corporate legal department. Unfortunately, the most extraordinary aspect of this Rule 11 motion is the subject of the motion itself: a recently trumped-up allegation of fraud and conspiracy for which there is no evidence, submitted by an opposing attorney without investigation into the facts. “
This is a tough start to a lengthy assignment aimed at determining attorney notoriety and lengthy personal relationships based on actions taken as part of the litigation.
Numerous attorneys and law firms have signed the document, including Thomas A. Mars of Mars Law Firm, John C. Everett of Everett Law Firm, John E. Tull III of Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull, Ryan K. Culpepper of Culpepper Law Firm. and R. Craig Wood and Benjamin P. Abel of McGuire Woods, all representing Bielema. Richard N. Watts signed for Cornrich as an attorney. On the flip side that the Razorback Foundation represents are many lawyers from Friday, Eldredge & Clark.
The attorneys who filed the rule 11 sanction motion primarily have problems with the Razorback Foundation, which claims in its counterclaim that Bielema and Cornrich fraudulently induced the Razorback Foundation to enter into a release agreement, knowing that Bielema was legally enforcing its legal Mitigation obligation would fail in the event he was fired from the University of Arkansas. The Razorback Foundation also alleged that Cornrich made fraudulent misrepresentations in order to obtain the sharing agreement.
At the heart of the Razorback Foundation claims that Bielema and Cornrich are grappling with is the idea that Bielema, Cornrich, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick entered into a scheme to intentionally underpaid Bielema for his role with the Patriots to make the Razorback Foundation harm.
“Based on information and beliefs, Cornrich worked with his other clients, including Bill Belichick (whether he knew them or not), to reach an agreement that would allow Bielema to remain in a position where he would receive compensation just below the compensation threshold This enables Bielema to maximize its payments under the release agreement and deprive the foundation of the benefit of its business, ”the counterclaim states. “Cornrich did this knowing that such terms violated the agreement of the parties and deliberately disregarded the requirements of the release agreement. A comparison of Bielema with Cornrich’s other customers, who at around the same time acquired much higher paying jobs, clearly shows that Bielema and Cornrich have jointly planned a conspiracy against the foundation. “
The Razorback Foundation responded quickly to the Rule 11 motion and filed an objection the same day the sanction motion was put on file. In summary, the Razorback Foundation describes the sanction motion as “nothing more than a high-level denial motion designed to attract press attention” and claims that it is part of fulfilling Bielema and Conrich’s threats of harm and harm through the sanction inflicting media. The opposition claims that Bielema’s attorney promised that the Razorback Foundation would be ruined in the press, that the University of Arkansas would suffer “collateral damage” and that he even owns compromising videos of a non-party (the non-party is not mentioned by name and in the The request is also not named the lawyer who is in charge of these threats.
According to the objection filed, when a recent discussion between the parties stalled, a member of the Bielema legal team wrote to a Razorback Foundation attorney (presumably Friday’s Katherine C. Campbell, Eldredge & Clark): “Katie, RKC. Lots of love, but respectful, stop writing like this or I’ll be forced to make sure we humiliate you. I don’t want to do that, and I assume there will be many ways that it’s not your head over the parapet. “RKC is believed to be Ryan K. Culpepper of the Culpepper law firm.
Judge PK Holmes III, who sits in the US District Court for the Western Fayetteville Division in Arkansas, has not only a multi-million dollar lawsuit in his hands, but a war between lawyers on both sides of the table. Reputations can be at stake, as can the possibility of punitive action across the board.
Darren Heitner is the founder of Heitner Legal. He is the author of How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Lawyer Needs to Know, published by the American Bar Association, and is Associate Professor at Levin College of Law, University of Florida. You can reach him by email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @DarrenHeitner.