Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

NYC MANAGEMENT GROUP INC. v. BROWN-MILLER

May 13, 2004.

NYC MANAGEMENT GROUP INC., LA MODEL MANAGEMENT, LA LOOK MODEL INC., and HEINZ HOLBA, Plaintiffs, -against- MICHELE BROWN-MILLER, INTERNATIONAL MODEL MANAGEMENT, Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD HOLWELL, District Judge

OPINION

Plaintiffs NYC Management Group, Inc., L.A. Model Management, and Heinz Holba, a principal of both corporate plaintiffs, (collectively "NY Models"), brought suit against defendants Michele Brown-Miller ("Miller") and International Model Management ("IMM"), alleging tortious interference with contract, tortious interference with prospective economic relations, breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, defamation, unfair competition, and misrepresentation. Defendants move for summary judgment as to all claims advanced by plaintiffs. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is granted in its entirety and plaintiffs' complaint is dismissed.

FACTS

  The events giving rise to this action began in March 2002, when defendant Miller, in her capacity as principal of defendant IMM, a Canadian modeling agency, brought with her to New York City several of the models represented by Miller and IMM. The apparent purpose of the trip was to secure agency representation for those models within the New York market. The parties appear to agree that it is not an unusual arrangement for one agency with a primary relationship with a model-a "mother agency"-to contract with a second agency for the management of that model in a particular market or region. Such a contract is called a "mother agency agreement."

  On that trip, Miller introduced defendant N.Y. Models to Jessica Stam ("Stam"), then a relatively unknown young model whom Miller sought to place. N.Y. Models was interested in Stam, and entered her in a modeling contest that it was sponsoring with a first-place prize of a two-year contract with a guarantee of $100,000 against the winner's modeling earnings during that period. (Aff. of Erin Lundgren in Opp. to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. ("Lundgren Aff"), Ex. A.) On or about July 15, 2002, Miller and N.Y. Models entered into an agreement ("the Mother Agency Agreement") according to which Stam would be represented by N.Y. Models "in New York, N.Y. ONLY." (Decl. of Michele Brown-Miller ("Miller Decl."), Ex. A.) Under the terms of the Mother Agency Agreement, EMM would receive ten percent of Stam's earnings (to be computed prior to N.Y. Model's deduction of its own commissions)*fn1 from modeling jobs booked by N.Y. Models. The Mother Agency Agreement by its terms would remain in force "until the date [Stam] is no longer represented by [NY Models]." (Id.) On or about September 5, 2002, Stam won the modeling contest. (Lundgren Aff. ¶ 25.) In September 2002, an agreement entitled "L.A. Models/New York Model Management Agreement" ("Stam Agreement") was executed by Stam, N.Y. Models employee Marion Smith, and Debbie Stam, Stain's mother. (Lundgren Aff. Ex. A.) Debbie Stain's signature was required because Stam was 16 years old when she signed the Stam Agreement, which read:
In the event the CONTESTANT is under 18 years of age, your parent or guardian is required to execute this agreement on your behalf.
Id. In a separate undated signed document, Debbie Stam consented to Stam's participation in the Stam Agreement. Id.
  The Stam Agreement sets forth the terms governing contest prizewinners, including a provision stating:
During the term of the modeling contract you agree to be represented by L.A. MODELS/NEW YORK MODEL MANAGEMENT and its affiliates throughout the world. You agree that L.A. MODELS/NEW YORK MODEL MANAGEMENT shall be your exclusive representative as a print, television, runway model or otherwise on an exclusive basis except in a market where a mother agency agreement with L.A. MODELS/NEW YORK MODEL MANAGEMENT exists.
Id.

  After only a few months, however, relations soured between Stam and N.Y. Models, due in large part to undisputed conflicts among Stam, her parents, and her agencies. The first point of contention centered on whether Stam should participate in the Paris "ready-to-wear" fashion shows in Fall 2002. Stam and Miller were excited by the prospect of doing the shows as both thought it would be a boost to Stam's career and provide her with valuable exposure. (Miller Decl. ¶ 10; Affidavit of Jessica Stam ("Stam Aff") ¶ 5.) George Speros, Stam's booking agent at N.Y. Models ("Speros"), opposed the idea and did not think that the Paris shows would be a "good move" for Stam. (Aff. of George Speros in Opp. to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. ("Speros Aff") ¶ 26). Speros ultimately relented but maintained that the shows were a disappointment and that Stam only received a couple of small jobs as a result. (Id. at ¶ 28). On the other hand, Miller felt that Stam performed very well in Paris, and Stam herself felt that the shows "turned out to be a great success for me." (Miller Decl. ¶ 11; Stam Aff. ¶ 6.)

  After returning to New York, Stam's relationship with N.Y. Models continued to deteriorate. Stern was having personal difficulties at home and did not want N.Y. Models to have any communication with her parents without her permission. Speros, however, received a call from Stam's father and they discussed Stam's career, including whether she should do upcoming shows in New York in 2003. This apparently led to a family disagreement with Stam's father yelling at her. (Speros. Aff. ¶¶ 66-76.) Stam was infuriated by Speros' conversation with her father and began questioning whether she wanted to stay with N.Y. Models. (Stam. Aff. ¶ 9; Speros Aff. ¶ 70.) Stam had developed a friendship with another model from her hometown in Canada who worked for another New York agency, IMG, and Stam began considering a move to IMG. (Stam Aff. ¶ 10; Miller Decl. ¶ 16.)

  Toward the end of 2002, Stam began talking to Miller about leaving N.Y. Models. Miller advised Stam that she should stay with N.Y. Models, that it had a good reputation and that she could have a successful career there. (Miller Decl. ¶ 20; Stam Aff. ¶ 11.) Miller further suggested that Stam meet with Speros to ease the friction between them. (Id.) Stam declined this advice and in or around January 2003 sent Miller a handwritten note expressing her unhappiness with N.Y. Models and her desire to end her relationship with the agency. (Miller Decl. ¶ 22 & Ex. B.) The note, a copy of which has been put in the record, reads as follows:
On a day to day basis I'm not happy here.
New York Models does not agree with my other agencies on countless decisions and is causing too much commotion at this point in my career.
They are pushing me too fast and do not seem to have my best interests in mind. For example, I feel they do not care that returning to school at age 16 is a top priority for me.
This unnecessary pressure is putting stress on me and is making everything much too complicated.
It is because of this that I wish to no longer be involved with the New York Model Management.
Yours, Jessica Stam
(Miller Decl. Ex. B.) On January 29, 2003, Miller, concerned that Stam might also leave Miller's agency if she stood in the way of Stam's decision, acceded to Stam's request and wrote a letter to N.Y. Models demanding a written release of Stam. (Miller Decl. Ex. C.) Thereafter Stam executed a written statement dated February 21, 2003, disaffirming "any agreement that I may have entered into, or which may have been entered into on my behalf, with New York Model Management." (Decl. of Edward H. Rosenthal ("Rosenthal Decl."), Ex. I.) This lawsuit followed.

  DISCUSSION

 A. Summary Judgment Standard

  Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." R.B. Ventures, Ltd. v. Sham, 112 F.3d 54, 57 (2d Cir. 1997) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). In reviewing the record, the district court must assess the evidence in "a light most favorable to the nonmoving party" and resolve all ambiguities and "draw all reasonable inferences" in its favor. Am. Cas. Co. v. Nordic Leasing, Inc., 42 F.3d 725, 728 (2d Cir. 1994); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

  An alleged factual dispute between the parties will not by itself defeat a motion for summary judgment, since "the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48 (emphasis in original). In order to defeat such a motion, the non-moving party must affirmatively set forth facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 256; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). "An issue of fact is genuine `if the evidence is such that a jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Gayle v. Gonyea, 313 F.3d 677, 682 (2d Cir. 2002) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). A fact is material when "it `might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Id. (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).

  Affidavits submitted in support of or in opposition to a motion for summary judgment must "be made on personal knowledge," and must "set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence" at trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). Hearsay contained in such affidavits, in the absence of a sworn statement by the alleged declarant, cannot provide support for or opposition to a summary judgment motion. Sarno v. Douglas Elliman-Gibbons & Ives, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.