A judge ruled Wednesday that former executive director Billy Hunter's suit against the NBA players' association for breach of contract can continue, but dismissed most of his claims against Derek Fisher and all of them against a publicist who used to work with the Oklahoma City guard.
Hunter contends he had a valid contract when he was ousted last February and is owed the more than $10.5 million.
The ruling in Los Angeles Superior Court allowed that part of the suit to remain, but threw out 12 of the 14 claims against Fisher, with attorney Andrew Kassof saying the remaining two will be ruled on shortly. Kassof represents Fisher and publicist Jamie Wior.
Hunter sued the NPBA, Fisher, its former president, and Wior last May, saying they conspired to undermine his authority during the 2011 lockout, and then have his employment terminated following the labor dispute.
"Today proved that Mr. Hunter's claims continue to be both farfetched and offensive," Kassof said, adding they were "thrilled" with the decision.
"It has been clear that Mr. Hunter filed this case in retaliation to my clients' efforts in protecting the NBPA and its players. Today's ruling establishes once again that my clients acted properly and in the organization's best interests."
Hunter and Fisher had a falling out during the lockout, with Hunter alleging that Fisher was working with the owners without his knowledge. Shortly after, Fisher pushed for a review by an outside law firm that criticized Hunter's business practices but found no illegal conduct, and also said his 2010 contract extension may not have been valid because it wasn't approved properly.
Judge Huey Cotton ruled that the union was entitled to fire Hunter, and allowed the former NPBA leader to clarify his complaint that he should be paid.
"We're pleased that the judge's decision supports Mr. Hunter's position that his contract was valid and allows his suit against the NBPA to continue," Hunter's attorney, David Anderson of Sidley Austin, said.
NBPA lawyer Christina Guerola Sarchio praised the judge's decision to dismiss "virtually all of Billy Hunter's claims against the Union and individual defendants." She also said in an emailed statement that she is confident her side will prevail on the remaining claims.
Hunter led the union from 1996 until his unanimous removal during a meeting at last year's All-Star break. The union still hasn't replaced him. Fisher's term expired and Clippers All-Star Chris Paul was voted in as president.