New Fanatics VIP Lead Wants DraftKings To Pay Attorneys Fees

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Former DraftKings VIP head Michael Hermalyn alleges his old company improperly tried to change courts twice in his noncompete suit and should be on the hook for bills.

Hermalyn, who left DraftKings for Fanatics for a similar role as the lead of VIP operations, sued in California state court to have the non-compete he signed with DK thrown out. Such agreements are not valid for California residents and Hermalyn claims he established residency quickly after accepting the Fanatics position.

DraftKings, which did not return a request for comment, tried and failed twice to remove the issue to federal from state court. That means, according to Hermalyn and Fanatics lawyers, those attorney’s fees of more than $310,000 fighting those removals should be covered by the company.

There were nine attorneys that worked nearly 150 hours on the first removal request. The second removal request took more than 90 hours by eight attorneys to handle.

Were removal attempts buying time?

Hermalyn’s lawyers allege the removal attempts by DraftKings were mostly to delay Hermalyn’s chance to get a temporary restraining order against DK concerning his non-compete.

That way, his former company would have time to file a TRO of its own in the US District Court of Massachusetts:

“One is left to conclude that the failure to file the Notice in this case was designed to (and did) slow down remand. In fact, DraftKings bought itself enough time by filing the second improper removal to file a lawsuit in Massachusetts that same day, seeking a TRO and expedited discovery.”

DraftKings was granted a TRO against Hermalyn, preventing him from contacting DK customers and giving any trade secrets to Fanatics. It did not, however, keep Hermalyn from starting his work at Fanatics, which he announced on LinkedIn the next day.

“Meanwhile, DraftKings’ removals have achieved exactly what they were designed to do — hamstring Mr. Hermalyn while DraftKings raced to file its own lawsuit, and obtain its own temporary injunction, in another forum,” the filing said.

Will DraftKings have to get approval for more removals?

Hermalyn and Fanatics’s lawyers are now requesting DK be required to get permission from the court before filing for removal again.

“Plaintiffs believe that such an order is warranted, given the “frivolous” and “harassing nature” of DraftKings’ actions thus far in the litigation.”