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Hunter Can Still Sue NBA Players Union, Lawyer Says

Former NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter
Former National Basketball Association Players Union Executive Director Billy Hunter speaks at a press conference in New York City. Photograph: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Billy Hunter, the ousted National Basketball Players Association executive director, will be able to pursue his breach of contract claims against the union after a court ruling in Van Nuys, California, his lawyer said.

“We’re pleased that the judge’s decision supports Mr. Hunter’s position that his contract was valid and allows his suit against the NBPA to continue,” David Anderson of Sidley Austin LLP said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

The decision couldn’t be immediately confirmed in state court records.

The judge threw out 12 of Hunter’s 14 claims against Derek Fisher, who was the union’s president when Hunter was ousted, and all of Hunter’s claims against Fisher’s publicist, Jamie Wior, according to an e-mailed statement yesterday from Andrew Kassof, the lawyer for Fisher and Wior.

“Today proved that Mr. Hunter’s claims continue to be both far fetched and offensive,” Kassof said. “It has been clear that Mr. Hunter filed this case in retaliation to my clients’ efforts in protecting the NBPA and its players.”

The judge is expected to rule on the two remaining claims against Fisher in the “coming days” and ordered Hunter to pay Fisher’s and Wior’s legal fees, Kassof said.

Hunter sued the union and Fisher in May, accusing them of engaging in secret negotiations with team owners to end the 2011 National Basketball Association lockout. Hunter was fired as the association’s executive director in February, ending a 16-year tenure. Player representatives from 24 of the 30 NBA teams in Houston for the All-Star weekend voted unanimously to oust him.

“We are pleased with the way this case is shaping up,” Jim Quinn, a lawyer for the players’ union, said in a telephone interview. “It was always just a contract case. We are prepared to move forward in arbitration or in court.”

The case is Hunter v. Fisher, LC100771, Los Angeles County Superior Court (Van Nuys).

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