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California Firm Ordered To Pay Damages over HBCU Football Broadcasting Contract Dispute

A California sports broadcast promotion company and its owner must pay HBCU Pro Football about $3.5 million for intentional misrepresentation and breach of contract, a federal judge in Baltimore has ruled.

Last month, U.S. District Judge William Quarles Jr. ordered New Vision Sports Properties and Victor Pelt to pay compensatory and punitive damages for their misconduct in purportedly trying to arrange for the broadcast of several high-profile HBCU games on the CBS College Sports Network (CSTV) in 2008.

It appears uncertain whether New Vision and Pelt will comply with Quarles’ June 10 default order because they and their lawyers did not appear in court. Also, California Secretary of State records show that New Vision’s business registration has been suspended.

According to an earlier decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth Gesner, Pelt misrepresented himself as “someone who had a track record of getting sporting events from historically Black colleges and universities broadcast on CSTV” and claimed to be an “official broadcast agent” of the network.

HBCU Pro Football signed a contract with New Vision for the broadcast of three games: Howard University vs. Georgetown University, Morgan State University vs. North Carolina Central University, and Benedict College vs. Clark Atlanta University. Pelt said he could guarantee a minimum gross of $400,000 in advertising revenue per game and reach 60 million households.

HBCU Pro Football provided recorded broadcasts of the games to New Vision and paid $150,000 in broadcast fees but received no advertising revenue, and CSTV didn’t air the games, according to the suit.

In addition, HBCU Pro Football, which had borrowed money to produce the shows, agreed with New Vision to air three other games on the regional Mid-Atlantic Sports Network for a minimum payment of $100,000 per game. Those games did air but New Vision failed to pay HBCU Pro Football any broadcasting revenue.

HBCU Pro Football then sued CSTV, New Vision and Pelt. CSTV denied that New Vision had represented the network and said it never agreed or intended to air the games on television or through online streaming. However, it reached a settlement with HBCU Pro Football.

Thomas Curley, a lawyer for CSTV in Washington, and HBCU Pro Football attorney David Hoskins of Baltimore said they couldn’t discuss the case.

Gesner, the magistrate judge, found sufficient evidence that HBCU Pro Football had fulfilled its responsibilities by producing the broadcasts and giving them to New Vision but that Pelt and New Vision didn’t carry out their contractual obligations. She also said there was enough proof “to conclude that the misrepresentations were made for the purpose of defrauding” HBCU Pro Football, which was damaged by relying on those misrepresentations.

“In addition to evidence that Pelt falsely represented his relationship with CSTV, HBCU has introduced evidence that Pelt misappropriated CSTV trade secrets and letterhead,” she said, justifying $1 million in punitive damages.

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