UTA & Michael Kassan File Lawsuits Towards Every Different In Company Brawl

EXCLUSIVE: Amidst allegations of monetary impropriety and company skullduggery, the collapse of the connection between UTA and MediaLink founder Michael Kassan now sees the events battling it out with competing authorized actions  and plenty of finger pointing – even by Hollywood requirements.

Having resigned on March 6 from the company that purchased his strategic firm simply over two years in the past, Kassam took UTA to court docket first at the beginning of enterprise Tuesday with a $25 million motion demanding arbitration. The submitting in LA Superior Courtroom this morning from NYC-based legal professional Sanford Michelman on Kassam’s behalf not solely names UTA as a defendant, but in addition factors the finger of duty instantly at  UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer, who is called as a defendant too.

“This case is a results of Kassan resigning from MediaLink on account of Zimmer’s breach of contract and repeated damaged guarantees, and Kassan electing to waive his practically $10,000,000 severance fee to compete with MediaLink as permitted in his Accomplice Providers Settlement,” the 16-page breach of contract and fraud submitting says.

UTA sees it very otherwise and demand Kassan didn’t resign, they fired him on March 7 for trigger and having his paws deep within the company cookie jar. Calling Kassan “shameless,” in one of many extra well mannered handles for the clearly unconventional government, UTA filed a jury trial looking for constructive fraud criticism in opposition to the MediaLink CEO within the late afternoon of Tuesday.

Within the timeline of lawsuits, the UTA motion actually stands as a response to Kassan’s early AM motion.

“Particularly, Respondents engaged in a deliberate secret scheme to fraudulently induce Kassan to comply with a sale of MediaLink, LLC solely to then stroll again the very guarantees made within the buy contract, particularly concerning what Kassan would oversee at UTA and his ‘Particular Bills,’” Kassan’s demand for arbitration asserts, noting the self-described $1.5 million “discretionary spend” the MediaLink boss was allotted in UTA’s $125 million buy of the corporate to “roll” his approach with purchasers and workers to “construct a neighborhood.”

One other chief out of the 2021 deal was that UTA Advertising and marketing shall be retitled as UTA Leisure & Tradition Advertising and marketing, and turn into part of MediaLink. To that finish, UTA Advertising and marketing bosses David Anderson and Julian Jacobs, each of whom are defendants within the case in opposition to UTA, had been speculated to be a part of Kassan’s government staff and report back to him.

How that every one went south to the purpose the place Kassam was prepared to lose his $10 million severance so he may compete in opposition to MediaLink with a newly created firm is however one of many many issues of dispute right here.  

Company sources inform me this right here has been a months and months’ lengthy probe of Kassan and his use of company funds and sources by exterior counsel and investigators. With Kassan’s obvious historical past of unhealthy company break ups, multi-million greenback lawsuits and arbitrations with previous employers like Western Initiative Media Worldwide, UTA could must nurse themselves by way of their purchaser’s regret when it come to the 2021 MediaLink acquisition.  

What is evident is that after all of the excessive hopes the 2 sides exhibited in 2021 after their “handshake” deal, Kassan left UTA in a flurry of strife within the first week of March.

“For readability, Mr. Kassan stays prepared to hunt an modification of the PSA and talk about with Mr. Zimmer whether or not there’s a path to proceed to stay at Medialink,” the March 6 resignation letter from Kassan legal professional Michelman.” That mentioned, as set forth herein, the events have till April 5, 2024 to take action. If the events don’t come to settlement, that shall function Mr. Kassan’s final day at MediaLink.”

Within the arbitration submitting put within the LASC docket and in entrance of JAMS Tuesday, the blast radius from the resignation is given additional perspective.

“Zimmer, sticking together with his type of intimidation, tried to reject Kassan’s resignation after which issued a termination for ‘Trigger,’” Kassan’s arbitration submitting states. “Paradoxically, the invalid termination – after Kassan had already resigned – was primarily based on Kassan’s advertising and marketing spend and charitable giving which UTA alleged was too excessive and inappropriate. For instance, Zimmer complained that Kassan’s use of personal aviation was not permitted, however Zimmer (and his spouse) had been on the very aircraft rides (there have been quite a few) for which he tried to fabricate ‘Trigger.’”

Talking of these non-public aircraft rides, they make up however one in every of a litany of supposed sins in UTA’s personal lawsuit in opposition to Kassan’s alleged “fraudulent, willful, oppressive, and malicious” conduct. Because the Bryan Freedman and Sean Hardy filed doc makes very clear:

In utter disregard for his fiduciary obligations as a companion of UTA, media and promoting government Michael Kassan has run rampant together with his enterprise expense accounts – losing thousands and thousands of UTA’s {dollars} on his lavish private way of life. In 2003, Kassan based the strategic advisory agency MediaLink. MediaLink was later acquired by UK-based Ascential PLC in 2016. In December 2021, following an aggressive solicitation effort by Kassan, UTA acquired MediaLink from Ascential. As a part of that transaction, Kassan remained CEO of MediaLink (now wholly-owned by UTA) and have become a UTA companion topic to the phrases and circumstances of his Accomplice Providers Settlement. As a way to safe UTA’s funding, Kassan introduced himself as a reliable businessman, who had operated inside the stringent controls and laws of a publicly traded firm. That turned out to not be the case. 
Virtually instantly, Kassan abused his title and authority by circumventing or failing to take care of customary management processes to make sure that firm funds had been used to pay for his extravagant private bills, with out query, and with the aim of not leaving any hint behind. As an illustration, not solely did Kassan require a private driver – he surreptitiously used UTA’s cash to pay for his driver’s condominium. Not solely did Kassan use an organization bank card for his private bills – he allowed his spouse to have an organization bank card, regardless of the actual fact she had no affiliation with MediaLink or UTA, so she may store for extravagant luxurious items. Not solely did Kassan insist on non-public flights – he spent a small fortune of UTA’s {dollars} on luxurious journey, together with a whole bunch of 1000’s on non-public airfare for his total household for journeys that Kassan acknowledges had been private in nature and had no rational enterprise function. Kassan even used firm monies to pay for his private housekeeper. In 2023, Kassan went as far as to make use of practically $500,000 in firm funds to repay his private bank card debt, regardless of a number of warnings from MediaLink’s high finance government. In 2022, Kassan had over $700,000 in firm funds wired to his private S-Company. Briefly, Kassan erased any line between his private and enterprise bills.

Kassan additional fostered a poisonous tradition at MediaLink, during which workers had been beholden to him personally, reasonably than to MediaLink or UTA, and had been discouraged from disclosing sure issues to UTA. Kassan used his affect to cover his misconduct from UTA for over a yr. Nevertheless, as soon as UTA uncovered the size of Kassan’s monetary misconduct, it promptly confronted him about it. Kassan was unrepentant, and will provide no documentation or receipts to substantiate a lot of his outlandish “enterprise” bills – for the apparent purpose that they had been clearly improper private bills. Consequently, following an investigation, Kassan was terminated for trigger.

“The Courtroom will evaluate the contract and clearly discover that UTA fraudulently induced Mr. Kassan to comply with the transaction and breach the contract on Particular Bills,” Kassan’s legal professional Michelman informed Deadline tonight of the brawl between the 2 sides and their very completely different POV on what went down. “UTA’s try to say they terminated Mr. Kassan is belied by the written paperwork.”

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