The Dallas Mavericks responded Friday to a wrongful termination swimsuit by Donnie Nelson, accusing the previous longtime normal supervisor of a “prolonged scheme to extort as a lot as $100 million” and saying the lawsuit was preceded by calls for that he obtain “in impact, a blackmail cost” in trade for his promise to not expose the sexual orientation of proprietor Mark Cuban’s chief of workers or make different claims to embarrass the crew.
The official court docket response was to Nelson’s declare that Cuban fired him final summer time as retaliation for reporting that Cuban’s “right-hand man” Jason Lutin had sexually harassed and sexually assaulted Nelson’s nephew throughout a 2020 job interview. Nelson’s lawsuit stated his nephew, who was not recognized, was invited to Lutin’s lodge room in the course of the 2020 All-Star Weekend in Chicago and subsequently reached a settlement with the crew. Nelson stated he came upon in regards to the alleged incident and settlement solely months later, whereas he was beginning contract negotiations with Cuban, however that the talks stalled and finally ended after he pressed the problem about Lutin. Cuban fired Nelson in June 2021.
Cuban on Thursday denied Nelson’s allegations, saying, “The whole lot in that submitting is a lie.” Lutin additionally denied the allegations as a “full lie.”
In Friday’s court docket submitting, the crew alleged that Nelson approached Cuban in August 2020 and stated he “knew of purported scandalous allegations from a member of the family that he might ‘make go away’ in trade for a long-term employment contract that he had lengthy desired.”
“Defendants’ representatives instructed Nelson that if an ‘assault’ had occurred, then Nelson ought to instantly contact the authorities,” the response states. “Opposite to the statements in his Petition now, Nelson assured Defendants that there had not been an ‘assault’ and, to Defendants’ information, neither Nelson nor anybody else ever contacted the authorities because the Defendants had advised. Nonetheless, Nelson burdened that if the allegation grew to become public, it could trigger embarrassment for a crew that had only recently handled unrelated claims of sexual misconduct and implied it could ‘out’ the Mavericks govt’s sexual orientation.”
Nelson’s lawyer, Rogge Dunn, stated in an e-mail to ESPN on Friday, “The Mavericks declare of extortion is completely meritless and fabricated.”
“If that allegation [were] true, the Mavericks wouldn’t have continued to make use of Nelson for one more 10 months and would’ve reported his alleged extortion to police,” Dunn stated. “Nelson shouldn’t be the one who introduced up confidentiality or his silence within the negotiations. That’s one thing that Cuban’s legal professionals demanded after they provided to settle Nelson’s retaliation declare — with the ultimate settlement quantity provided by the Mavericks being $52 million.”
Lutin, by way of his legal professional, declined to remark Friday.
The response says that when the crew had discovered of the nephew’s allegations, it retained an out of doors legislation agency to analyze and likewise knowledgeable the NBA. The Mavericks then totally cooperated with the investigation, in response to the crew’s response, aside from Nelson, who “refused to completely cooperate, together with refusing to offer his textual content messages to find out the extent of his involvement along with his nephew’s allegations.”
“Critically, the allegations and descriptions of the incident made in Nelson’s Petition distinction sharply with the contemporaneous statements of all concerned,” the response states. “Nelson’s nephew by no means asserted that he had been ‘assaulted.’ The precise allegations weren’t as sensational because the Petition claims. Certainly, the people concerned continued to often speak and textual content for six months after their preliminary assembly. After the investigation concluded, the matter was closed to Nelson’s nephew’s satisfaction.”
The Mavericks, of their response, denied that any motion was taken in opposition to Nelson after he raised the incident. Somewhat, his firing final 12 months was largely associated to his job efficiency, the crew stated. The response additionally says Nelson had diverted his time and a focus to different outdoors enterprise pursuits, and that he had violated crew and league regulation and insurance policies.
“Under no circumstances was the choice to terminate Nelson an act of retaliation,” the response stated.
Cuban’s legal professional, Thomas M. Melsheimer, declined to remark past what was included within the lawsuit response Friday.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass was requested whether or not the league will examine the Mavericks for any allegations leveled in opposition to the crew and executives in Nelson’s lawsuit, or whether or not the crew had instructed the league about Nelson’s wrongful termination criticism filed with the Equal Employment Alternative Fee in December. Nelson’s lawsuit states that the league “could not have been instructed” about Nelson’s EEOC criticism.
In response, Bass stated: “The monitoring interval imposed by the NBA league workplace following the 2018 Dallas Mavericks office investigation was in place for greater than three years, ending in 2021. We’ll carefully monitor developments within the litigation and take any additional steps which can be applicable.”
In his lawsuit, Nelson alleged that Cuban provided him $52 million to withdraw his wrongful termination declare and signal a confidentiality assertion associated to the alleged harassment and abuse of his nephew. A duplicate of a proposed settlement was hooked up to the lawsuit.
Nelson stated he didn’t discover out in regards to the alleged Feb. 16, 2020, incident involving Lutin or the following settlement for an undisclosed quantity till 5 months later. At that time, the lawsuit says, the events had been engaged in contract talks. Nelson confronted Cuban and stated Lutin’s alleged actions had been “placing the Mavericks’ workers, gamers and the complete group in danger,” in response to the lawsuit. On Sept. 18, 2020, the lawsuit claims, Cuban despatched Nelson a textual content delaying one other dialogue a couple of contract extension, saying, “However truthfully, earlier than I can speak I’ve to seek out out extra of what is going on on with the opposite matter. Because it’s associated to a few of the discussions we have now had.”
Cuban’s textual content, the lawsuit claims, is a response to Nelson’s warning that different Mavericks workers had been prone to being sexually harassed by Lutin. The lawsuit alleges a direct hyperlink between “Nelson’s criticism and report of Lutin’s improper actions” and Cuban’s withdrawal of a 10-year, $66 million contract supply to Nelson in September 2020.
Nonetheless, the Mavericks’ response says the supply was not withdrawn however as a substitute refused by Nelson.
“Whereas Nelson’s Petition bizarrely claims that he was retaliated in opposition to by Defendants pulling the proposed employment contract, the undeniable fact is that Nelson rejected it,” the response says.
On Nov. 16, 2021, 5 months after he was fired, Nelson’s legal professional despatched the crew a letter demanding “a minimum of $100 million, or he would make public accusations that will reveal the sexual orientation of a former Mavericks govt and likewise disclose different info that Nelson believed would enormously embarrass the crew and quite a few people, together with Mr. Cuban,” the response says.
Nelson then sought, in response to the crew, to extend the strain by submitting his EEOC criticism. It was at the moment that the crew started to interact Nelson in settlement discussions, in response to the crew’s response.
“Importantly, Nelson repeatedly refused to interact in any decision that requested him to signify that he had not engaged in any prison conduct regarding his allegations, his grownup nephew’s allegations, or the opposite topic issues above,” the response says.
Nelson labored for the Mavericks for twenty-four seasons, serving as an assistant normal supervisor and assistant coach earlier than being promoted to president of basketball operations. He remained Cuban’s prime basketball govt for years after the bitter departure of his father, Don, who served as Mavericks coach and normal supervisor from 1997 to 2005.