Carter loses suit against ex-agent for contract breach

Updated: November 2, 2004, 6:28 PM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A federal jury ordered NBA star Vince Carter to pay his imprisoned former agent, William "Tank" Black, nearly $4.7 million in lost commissions and damages.

Vince Carter
Toronto Raptors
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The panel said Tuesday that Carter breached his contract with Black's company, Professional Management Inc., when the Toronto Raptors guard dissolved the agreement in 2000. It awarded Black $4,675,640.45 in actual damages.

The jury also found that Black violated his fiduciary duties to Carter and ordered the one-time sports agent to pay $800,000 to Carter. That was the total of two loans Carter made to Black.

"Obviously, we're unhappy with it," Carter's attorney, Jake Moore, said. "It's hard to understand. One thing I know about juries, figuring out the rationale behind decisions is sometimes very hard to do."

The decision brought a temporary end to the court case. Carter spent several days away from his NBA club as he fought Black, a federal prisoner.

Carter, who testified Monday, had returned to Toronto, where the Raptors open the regular season against Houston on Wednesday night.

Black, who signed Carter after he left North Carolina in 1998, sued his former client for $9 million in commissions for endorsement deals the former agent said he landed for Carter, as well as $5 million in damages.

Carter countersued, demanding Black pay him the $15.9 million Carter lost when Puma sued him over a failed shoe deal, and a $3 million penalty for breaking the contract.

The jury said Black and his company were negligent in handling the Puma contract, but decided Carter was not harmed financially by the negligence and gave him no damages.

Black pleaded guilty to money laundering, fraud and other charges for his role in a car-title-for-cash scheme that bilked millions of dollars from sports stars, including Carter, who lost $130,000. At one time, Black's clients included NFL players Fred Taylor, Ike Hilliard and Robert Brooks.

"When you're representing a player, you're a face for that player," Carter said. "Once you go out and get in legal trouble, how can you represent somebody?"

Black's attorney, Dawes Cooke, was pleased the jury saw that a legitimate contract was broken and followed the law.

"We're very happy about it," Cooke said. "We understand that Carter's a very nice guy, an honorable person and the jury found against him in favor of somebody in prison."

Moore said Carter intends to appeal. Moore expects to file court papers within 10 days.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press