Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte was sued by his former agent over a dispute involving profits from the swimmer’s merchandise licensing agreements, News 6 has learned.
However, fewer than 24 hours later, the former agent’s attorney dismissed the lawsuit without explanation.
Wright Entertainment and Sports Productions, based in Orlando, represented Lochte from 2010 to 2012, court records indicate. The company is owned Erika Wright, an entertainment attorney who was Miss Louisiana 1996 and a runner-up in the Miss America pageant.
Wright’s company sued Lochte in 2012, claiming the swimmer improperly terminated their management and merchandising agreements before signing with another agent. According to court records, Wright was entitled to 50 percent of the profits from product sales.
Lochte’s attorney accused Wright of taking advantage of Lochte by pressuring him to sign a contract extension weeks before the 2012 Olympic Games while the swimmer was focused on training. That contract extension was scheduled to expire in December 2016, following the Rio Olympics.
Wright and Lochte settled that lawsuit in 2014. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in public court records.
In a new lawsuit filed in Orange County Circuit Court late Tuesday, Wright accused Lochte of breaching the terms of that settlement agreement. Two companies controlled by the swimmer, Lochte 180 and Lochte Enterprises, were also named as defendants in the suit.
According to the lawsuit, Lochte has failed to consistently and regularly provide Wright with quarterly accounting reports of his merchandise profits as required by 2012 the settlement agreement. Those accounting records included financial statements by Lochte’s new representative, Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency (CAA).
“(The settlement agreement) requires that Defendants establish and maintain a reasonable accounting system to enable Wright Entertainment and Sports Production to identify the gross income and expenses,” the lawsuit states. “No such reasonable accounting system has been provided by the defendants.”
Wright’s attorney, Clay Townsend, filed the lawsuit against Lochte at 2:03 p.m. Tuesday. At 9:35 a.m. Wednesday, Townsend filed a notice voluntarily dismissing the case “without prejudice”, meaning the suit can be re-filed again in the future if necessary.
Townsend declined to comment on the matter or the reason for the dismissal.
"That case you are inquiring about was a misunderstanding and has been dismissed already," said Lochte's attorney, Jeffrey M. Ostrow, in response to an email from News 6.
The timing behind the legal action is unclear. Court records indicate the former agent’s latest dispute with Lochte has been ongoing for years. In December 2015 Wright’s attorney sent the swimmer a letter demanding the accounting records, documents show.
The lawsuit did not reference Lochte’s recent performance in the 2016 Olympic Games, his claims of being robbed at gunpoint while in Rio, or his recent loss of sponsorship deals.
Last week Lochte apologized for fabricating a story in which he originally claimed he and three teammates were robbed at gunpoint after leaving a Rio nightclub. Surveillance video from a gas station later showed the swimmers were confronted by armed security guards after breaking an advertisement sign.
This week several sponsors announced they were cutting ties with Lochte. Speedo, Polo Ralph Lauren, Gentle Hair Removal, and mattress manufacturer Airweave indicated they would be ending sponsorship agreements with the Olympic swimmer.
Tropical activity in the Atlantic peaks between mid-August and mid-October. Right on cue, we've seen two named storms develop in the past 10 days.
First was Tropical Storm Fiona, which moved harmlessly through the central Atlantic and dissipated earlier this week.
Then on Monday the seventh tropical depression of the season formed off the east coast of Africa. This system quickly became a tropical storm and received the name Gaston. While Gaston is expected to be a hurricane for several days, it, too, will move harmlessly through the open waters of the Atlantic as it curves out to sea well east of Bermuda.
While neither of these storms proved noteworthy for the United States, there is a strong tropical wave entering the Eastern Caribbean that people should take note of. The National Hurricane Center is giving the system a high chance (80%) of developing into a tropical storm by late this week as it moves through the central and eastern Bahamas.
Uncertainty with this storm is very high and computer models are providing a wide range of potential solutions. Some of our most reliable models show a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico early next week. Other models show a storm hitting the Southeastern United States. And some models never develop anything from this tropical wave.
Regardless of development, the storm will bring gusty winds and heavy tropical downpours to areas of the Caribbean from Puerto Rico and Hispaniola to the Bahamas. That heavy rain will get to Florida as early as Sunday.
At this point it's far too early to forecast the specifics, but it is something that should certainly be monitored closely by anyone with interests in the Gulf of Mexico or along the Southeast coast of the United States.
"We are closely watching a wave moving over the lesser Antilles," News 6 meteorologist Troy Bridges said. "So far, it is not well organized, but it could become a depression or get the name Hermine later Wednesday."
The system is currently encountering dry air and upper-level winds, keeping it from strengthening.
"Some computer models don't have this system developing much at all, while others bring it to South Florida by Sunday into Monday as a hurricane," Bridges said. "It's still too early to tell exactly what the system will do."
Hurricane Hunters are scheduled to investigate the weather system later Wednesday.
"As we see a more well-defined center of circulation, the computer models will begin to agree and we will have a better idea on the system's intensity and track."
Elsewhere in the tropics
A system that once was Tropical Storm Fiona has died out.
"Meanwhile, as we watch Gaston, it is still a tropical storm, but it will stay out to sea and not impact land," Bridges said.
Gaston's maximum sustained winds had increased Tuesday to 65 mph. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Gaston is expected to become a hurricane Wednesday.
Gaston is centered about 765 miles west of the southernmost Cabo Verde Islands and is moving west-northwest at 18 mph.
The storm is expected to turn toward the northwest and decrease in forward speed in the next couple of days.
Rain chances will be off and on Wednesday in the Orlando area as an east-southeast breeze kicks up and gusts near 20 mph through the afternoon.
Rain chances will be at 30 percent as the day progresses, Bridges said.
Expect high temperatures to be at 92 degrees.
"Rain chances will increase to 40 percent through the weekend," Bridges said. "Afternoon high temperatures will only reach the upper 80s by the end of the weekend and the start of next week as more clouds and rain roll in."
Watch News 6 for more on this story.
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