Several of FaZe Clan’s motions rebuffed in lawsuit against Tfue
The lawsuit between Turner ‘Tfue” Tenney and FaZe Clan continued to develop today. The Southern District of New York court issued an opinion and order in response to a FaZe Clan motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is a judgment carried out by a court without a full trial.
Today summary judgment from Judge Jed S. Rackoff rejected most of the requests from FaZe and rejected all requests from Tfue, while also opening the door for Tfue to take action against FaZe in California court in the future.
The decision was a blow to FaZe, which had nearly all of its claims dismissed, other than the claim that Tfue doesn’t have to answer to the Southern District of New York court. With the other counterclaims denied, that jurisdictional issue should not be a problem for Tfue and his legal team.
Read the judge’s full opinion here.
Background of the case
In May of 2019, Tfue filed a lawsuit against FaZe Clan in an attempt to get out of his contract. According to the original suit, FaZe allegedly operated as an unlicensed agency and in violation of California law, Faze blocked Tfue’s business opportunities, and FaZe took as much as 80 percent of Tfue’s earnings. The original lawsuit also contained unrelated accusations that FaZe pressured Tfue into doing dangerous stunts in videos, which eventually led to a serious injury to Tfue’s arm.
Tfue’s legal case rests upon the argument that the contract should not apply because FaZe violated the California Talent Agency Act (TTA), which bans unlicensed talent agents from managing talent in the state of California. Tfue argued that his Gamer Agreement with FaZe should be voided since the agreement violates the law. FaZe, on the other hand, has argued that it did not manage Tfue in California.
In August 2019, FaZe filed a counter suit in New York, claiming that Tfue breached his contract. In its suit, FaZe claimed that, among other things, Tfue had earned $20 million from streaming without sharing any of that revenue with the organization. It was this lawsuit that came to a head today.
Today’s summary judgment
The 29-page document from the New York court addressed each claim put forth by both Tfue and FaZe, ultimately denying nearly every request from both parties.
The court granted the motion from FaZe that the New York court should have jurisdiction over Tfue. According to the ruling, any action ordered by the New York court applies and is enforceable on Tfue, despite him not living in New York. This ruling would only be important if Tfue had been found at fault by the court, which thus far has not been the case.
The court denied FaZe’s request to strike Tfue’s counterclaims regarding California’s Business and Profession code, which voids non-compete agreements for independent contractors. There are three provisions in Tfue’s contract which prevent him from competing in any way with FaZe. It is possible we will see these elements of Tfue’s contract thrown out if a case goes forward in California, since the case law indicates that most non-competes cannot be levied against independent contractors.
Finally, the court denied FaZe’s request to rule that Tfue breached the contract when he didn’t include FaZe in his Fortnite creator code revenue. The judge cited significant evidence that creator code revenue was not intended to be included in the original Gamer Agreement. This evidence included testimony from FaZe co-owner Richard “Banks” Bengtson, who said FaZe never has “collected the creator code revenue, and up to this point in time, we had no intention to do so.”
The court denied Tfue’s motion to rule in his favor on the breach of contract claims. Tfue has argued the Gamer Agreement expired on October 27, 2018, because FaZe failed to satisfy the conditions to renew the agreement. Specifically, Tfue claims that FaZe failed to pay a $2,000 monthly payment which they agreed to in the contract. Although FaZe did send the payments later, Tfue argues that because the payments were not sent on time, FaZe breached the contract. The court did not agree with Tfue’s view.
Tfue also moved for the Court to dismiss three of FaZe’s non-contract claims.
- Tfue requested the dismissal of FaZe Clan’s claim that Tfue induced brand partners to breach contracts with FaZe. According to Tfue, he was unaware of most of FaZe’s brand partner contracts. The court disagreed with Tfue, claiming that he had admitted in a deposition that he at least knew about some of the deals.
- Tfue requested the dismissal of FaZe Clan’s claim that he intentionally interfered with FaZe business opportunities. Specifically, FaZe CEO Lee Trink claimed that while they were negotiating with Venmo, Tfue’s negative public comments in 2019 caused the deal to fall through. The judge explained that “because a juror might arguably find FaZe Clan’s evidence more credible” the court thinks there might be merit to FaZe’s claim, and therefore will not dismiss it.
- Tfue requested the dismissal of FaZe Clan’s claim that he engaged in unjust enrichment. According to the Cornell Law School, “Unjust enrichment occurs when Party A confers a benefit upon Party B without Party A receiving the proper restitution required by law. This typically occurs in a contractual agreement when Party A fulfills his/her part of the agreement and Party B does not fulfill his/her part of the agreement.”
FaZe is essentially claiming that Tfue benefited from FaZe doing its part of the contract, while Tfue did not fulfill his end. As a result, FaZe wants the court to enforce a recovery claim against Tfue. According to Tfue’s argument, the Gamer Agreement is void under the TAA, which would bar FaZe from recovery. According to the court, Tfue is misinterpreting the relevant legal precedent, and that partial recovery for an unlicensed agent under the TAA is possible.
Although this summary judgment denied all of Tfue’s requests, the claim alleging that FaZe violated the TAA is still pending. The judge said California has the exclusive rights to make a decision on that claim, and the judge confirmed that California is a legitimate forum for this case. In the order, the judge pointed out that FaZe Clan’s primary place of business is Los Angeles, Tfue lived in the state during at least part of the agreement, and he worked with FaZe employees in California.
Although today’s decision was a blow to FaZe clan, this situation is far from over. We can expect more litigation from both Tfue and FaZe in the near future.
Content courtesy of DotESports.com published on , original article here.