Ten-year-old case against former Sixers' basketball star Iverson dismissed by judge

By Jon Campisi | Mar 27, 2012

A federal judge in Philadelphia has dismissed a complaint against former Philadelphia 76ers basketball star Allen Iverson that was filed more than a decade ago over allegations that the sports figure failed to pay the plaintiff for the plaintiff’s idea that Iverson style himself “The Answer” during his professional basketball career.

U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin dismissed with prejudice a lawsuit initiated back in December 2001 by Jamil Blackmon.

The initial complaint contained counts of idea misappropriation, breach of contract and quantum meruit.

The federal court dismissed the initial complaint, but allowed Blackmon to file an amended complaint, which he subsequently did.

The court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Iverson in March 2006, the record shows, preserving Blackmon’s ability to move forward on a promissory estoppel theory.

In September 2006, the court entered judgment for the defendant on all non-promissory estoppel claims. Blackmon appealed the following month, and the case eventually made its way to the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In September 2008, the appeals court dismissed and remanded the complaint finding that it lacked jurisdiction.

In early December 2011, the district court directed the parties to show cause on why the case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute.

McLaughlin’s order last week came after Iverson moved to dismiss the suit entirely.

In granting Iverson’s request for dismissal, McLaughlin wrote that Blackmon offered no explanation for his failure to move forward with his case following the Third Circuit Court’s remanding of the matter in 2008.

“The defendant maintains that there was not even any contact between the parties during that interval,” the ruling states. “The plaintiff does not allege that his counsel was responsible for the delay or argue that his counsel was so deficient as to deprive him of constructive notice of his failure to prosecute.”

The judge also agreed with Iverson’s assertion that he has been prejudiced by the plaintiff’s delay because important evidence, including the memories of witnesses, documents and other evidence will have deteriorated over time and make it more difficult for him to defend his claims.

“On a fact-intensive claim such as promissory estoppel, the recollection of witnesses is likely to be critical to determining the extent of reliance the plaintiff undertook in response to the defendant’s alleged promises,” McLaughlin wrote.

McLaughlin also wrote that the court order in March 2006 cautioned Blackmon that any claim for reliance damages made in an amending pleading must exceed $75,000 in order to invoke the court’s jurisdiction, and that Blackmon never submitted anything to the court suggesting that he would be able to make such a claim in an amended pleading.

“In light of the foregoing, the Court concludes that dismissal with prejudice is the appropriate sanction for the plaintiff’s failure to prosecute the action for nearly three and one-half years after the case was remanded by the Court of Appeals,” the ruling states.


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