Ex-Pitcher Owes MLB, Union Attorneys’ Fees in Elk Antler Suit

Oct. 27, 2020, 9:20 PM

A former minor league baseball pitcher will have to cover the attorneys’ fees that Major League Baseball and the players’ association spent defending his claims that they improperly banned his company’s elk antler health supplements.

Neiman Nix and his company, DNS Sports Performance Lab Inc., engaged in a campaign of harassment by pursuing the league in a series of suits over nine years filed in federal and state courts, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found. That warrants the award of attorneys’ fees, it said.

The ruling stems from a March 2018 suit alleging the defendants engaged in unfair business practices. Nix voluntarily dismissed the claims in August 2020.

But the “tale begins” in October 2012, when Nix sent a “shakedown letter” to the league accusing it of defamation and demanding $6 million, the court said.

In the following years, Nix filed suits in Florida, New York, and California, the court said.

Nix would repeatedly dismiss the suits, and then file a “slightly new cause of action” challenging the ban in a different venue, the court said.

But the court declined, for now, to award sanctions against Nix’s current attorney, Lance Reich, noting that it was his first appearance before the court.

The court ordered Nix to pay the players’ association $104,000 in attorneys’ fees, and the league $33,000.

Judge William Alsup issued the order.

Kobre & Kim LLP represented the league. Altshuler Berzon LLP represented the players’ association.

Reich is with Holley Driggs. Nix was also represented by Bullivant Houser Bailey PC.

The case is DNA Sports Performance Lab Inc. v. Major League Baseball, N.D. Cal., No. 20-cv-00546, 10/27/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Hayes in Washington at PHayes@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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