Ryan Lochte sued by former agent
Orlando management company claims swimmer violated agreement
ORLANDO, Fla. – Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte was sued by his former agent over a dispute involving profits from the swimmer’s merchandise licensing agreements, News 6 has learned.
However, fewer than 24 hours later, the former agent’s attorney dismissed the lawsuit without explanation.
Wright Entertainment and Sports Productions, based in Orlando, represented Lochte from 2010 to 2012, court records indicate. The company is owned Erika Wright, an entertainment attorney who was Miss Louisiana 1996 and a runner-up in the Miss America pageant.
Wright’s company sued Lochte in 2012, claiming the swimmer improperly terminated their management and merchandising agreements before signing with another agent. According to court records, Wright was entitled to 50 percent of the profits from product sales.
Lochte’s attorney accused Wright of taking advantage of Lochte by pressuring him to sign a contract extension weeks before the 2012 Olympic Games while the swimmer was focused on training. That contract extension was scheduled to expire in December 2016, following the Rio Olympics.
Wright and Lochte settled that lawsuit in 2014. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in public court records.
In a new lawsuit filed in Orange County Circuit Court late Tuesday, Wright accused Lochte of breaching the terms of that settlement agreement. Two companies controlled by the swimmer, Lochte 180 and Lochte Enterprises, were also named as defendants in the suit.
According to the lawsuit, Lochte has failed to consistently and regularly provide Wright with quarterly accounting reports of his merchandise profits as required by 2012 the settlement agreement. Those accounting records included financial statements by Lochte’s new representative, Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency (CAA).
“(The settlement agreement) requires that Defendants establish and maintain a reasonable accounting system to enable Wright Entertainment and Sports Production to identify the gross income and expenses,” the lawsuit states. “No such reasonable accounting system has been provided by the defendants.”
Wright’s attorney, Clay Townsend, filed the lawsuit against Lochte at 2:03 p.m. Tuesday. At 9:35 a.m. Wednesday, Townsend filed a notice voluntarily dismissing the case “without prejudice”, meaning the suit can be re-filed again in the future if necessary.
Townsend declined to comment on the matter or the reason for the dismissal.
"That case you are inquiring about was a misunderstanding and has been dismissed already," said Lochte's attorney, Jeffrey M. Ostrow, in response to an email from News 6.
The timing behind the legal action is unclear. Court records indicate the former agent’s latest dispute with Lochte has been ongoing for years. In December 2015 Wright’s attorney sent the swimmer a letter demanding the accounting records, documents show.
The lawsuit did not reference Lochte’s recent performance in the 2016 Olympic Games, his claims of being robbed at gunpoint while in Rio, or his recent loss of sponsorship deals.
Last week Lochte apologized for fabricating a story in which he originally claimed he and three teammates were robbed at gunpoint after leaving a Rio nightclub. Surveillance video from a gas station later showed the swimmers were confronted by armed security guards after breaking an advertisement sign.
This week several sponsors announced they were cutting ties with Lochte. Speedo, Polo Ralph Lauren, Gentle Hair Removal, and mattress manufacturer Airweave indicated they would be ending sponsorship agreements with the Olympic swimmer.
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