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Wade restaurant lawsuit settled

6/1/2010 - NBA Dwyane Wade Miami Heat + more

MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade took a chair in the juror's box, his attorney seated on his left, one of the people who were suing him for $25 million to his right, smiles all around.

Moments after settling a breach-of-contract suit brought by two former partners in a failed restaurant deal, Wade -- along with the plaintiffs, the jurors, even the judge -- headed to the jury box, posing for a team photo.

Wade was relieved, with good reason.

"I think we wanted to show how excited we were and how appreciative we were to the jury for really sticking it out," Wade said.

Also settled: A charter school deal and an antitrust suit over memorabilia sales, one that could have cost him $90 million alone. No settlement terms were disclosed, but this much was certain:

• Wade was thrilled by the amount of money he paid in the settlements, and there were hints the amount was less than $1 million.

• Above all else, Wade was relieved the four cases were over with a few strokes of a pen.

"I'm very pleased," Wade said. "Of course I can't say terms, but I'm smiling, and you know if I smile, it's a good thing."

His time in courtrooms isn't over. Still unsettled: Divorce and custody cases in Chicago, along with a libel suit Wade filed against another former business partner.

Getting these four cases behind him, especially with free agency looming -- Wade can hit the NBA open market on July 1 -- was a huge victory for the Miami Heat star.

"Mr. Wade is an honorable businessman and we regret that our differences caused his strong character to come into question," said a statement released by plaintiffs Mark Rodberg and Lauren Hollander, who claimed Wade cost them millions when he walked away from a deal to open a chain of sports-themed restaurants using the name and likeness of the 2006 NBA finals MVP.

Wade was seeking damages in the restaurant case as well, saying his name and likeness were used in ways he did not approve, which would have violated the original agreement between the sides.

Wade spent about nine hours over three days on the witness stand, and his side said that's when the case turned quickly in their direction.

"He was extraordinary and I'm not just saying that because he's my client," Wade's attorney, Michael Kreitzer, said while the Heat star posed for more photos in the courtroom. "He did all the things you would want him to do. He exuded the person that he is. He answered the questions. He didn't get caught in any contradictory statements, whereas their side did over and over again."

There were indications last week that a settlement was close.

"They were the ones that said they were interested in trying to resolve the case," Kreitzer said.

Court was to begin Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.; it was delayed nearly three hours without explanation, before Wade, his attorneys and other parties walked in at 2:02 p.m.

Moments later, the jury was summoned, and Judge Peter Adrien told them what had transpired.

"It's a win-win situation for both sides," Adrien told the jury. "At this time, your service is completed."

Wade originally was to receive 10 percent of the profits, plus a guaranteed $1 million over five years, and his best friend Marcus Andrews -- who did much of the negotiating in the deal -- was to get another 2 percent. Rodberg and another former partner, Richard von Houtman, were to evenly split the remaining 88 percent, according to testimony Wade offered during the trial.

When von Houtman did not satisfy certain responsibilities, Wade said, he and Andrews asked for a bigger share, a total of 30 percent, with Rodberg then to receive the remaining 70 percent. That request ultimately led to the demise of the business arrangement, and the restaurant chain plans ended after just two facilities were opened, both briefly.

"Getting this done, it's a big relief," Andrews said.

Wade said his next order of business was returning to Chicago on Wednesday, spending more time with his sons, ages 8 and 3, of whom he wants full custody. Wade said he played basketball for the first time this offseason on Monday, most of his time consumed by court cases and visits with his kids.

"The biggest thing is just justice, understanding that the things that were claimed, the things that were said about me, they're not true," Wade said. "I understand, being in the limelight like I am, that things like that are going to happen. I'm not going to back down from it, especially when I know I've done no wrong."