Report: Mike Miller Considering Lawsuit Against Heat

Report: Mike Miller Considering Lawsuit Against Heat

Postby Kobe8Fan on Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:56 pm

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Mike Miller, a popular and contributing piece of two Heat championship teams before the team released him in July, is strongly considering filing a lawsuit against the team because he believes the franchise bears some responsibility for him being swindled by a con man, his attorney tells us.

Miller, who now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, lost $1.7 million in a scam allegedly orchestrated by Haider Zafar, a South Beach bling king who presented himself as a member of a wealthy Pakistani family.

According to Miller's complaint that has been drawn up but not yet filed, a Heat employee introduced Miller to Zafar, and Zafar used $700,000 of the money he stole from Miller to pay for courtside Heat tickets.

Settlement talks between Miller and the Heat have stalled. Miller asked for that $700,000 back from the Heat, plus attorney’s fees, but “the parties were far apart,” Miller’s attorney, Andrew Fine, said.

In the potential lawsuit, Miller is seeking a lot more: the entire $1.7 million that he lost in Zafar’s scam.

According to the complaint which I obtained, Zafar last December agreed to spend $3 million over three seasons for Heat courtside seats and other benefits but did not submit payment.

A month later, Zafar asked Stephen Weber, who was then the Heat’s executive vice president/sales, to introduce him to “Heat players with businesses Zafar… could invest in.”

According to the complaint, Miller, “at Weber’s urging, met with Zafar at Heat offices,” and Weber told Miller that Zafar was “the real deal.”

The complaint said at the time of that January meeting, the Heat and Weber “knew that Zafar had not paid his obligation to the Heat and had disclosed he was using a false, or at least, unofficial, identity and had disclosed he was under IRS investigation.”

Miller and Zafar then began a relationship in which Miller allegedly was defrauded of $2 million, of which $300,000 was eventually repaid to Miller.

In February, Miller sent Zafar $2 million to invest in what Zafar portrayed as a private investment fund with a high-interest yield. Fine said Zafar had access to no such fund and ended up keeping most of Miller’s money.

Zafar, who is imprisoned in Ohio awaiting trial on fraud charges in an unrelated case, also reneged on a promise to invest $40 million in three of Miller’s businesses.

Miller determined that Zafar was a fraud in late April. Until that point, “Weber continued to vouch for Zafar even though he never paid” some of the $1 million due the Heat, according to Miller's complaint.

Between February and April, Zafar paid $700,000 of the money due for the courtside tickets. Miller's complaint claims that cash was money that Zafar stole from Miller, and the Heat needs to give that money back to Miller.

“Prior to introducing Zafar to Miller and prior to representing that Zafar was a suitable business and investment partner, the Heat… and Weber had a duty to fully investigate whether that patron was, in fact, a suitable partner,” Miller’s complaint says.

“Upon discovering information that would have led a reasonable person to conclude that Zafar was a fraud,… the Heat and Weber had a duty to notify Miller, instead of continuing to endorse Zafar…. Due to the acts and omission of the Heat and Weber, Zafar was able to steal a large amount of money from Miller.”

Besides the Heat, Weber and the team’s seat licensing company are also named as defendants in the complaint. The complaint claims Weber, who left the Heat during the playoffs, “occasionally set up side deals for his own benefit.”

Weber declined to comment.

Asked for a comment about the potential Miller lawsuit, Heat outside counsel Alan Fein said: "We were distressed to learn that the Heat and the members of the Heat family were victimized by an elaborate fraud conducted by an individual currently in custody in Ohio. We continue to remain in constant contact with the appropriate federal authorities investigating this fraud."

Heat forwards James Jones and Rashard Lewis also were defrauded by Zafar and suffered undisclosed losses, but neither is pursuing claims against the team.

Fine said Miller “has good feelings for the organization. He just feels like they should accept their share of responsibility for this situation.”

The Heat used the one-time amnesty clause on Miller because keeping him would have resulted in $17 million in luxury tax payments, president Pat Riley said.

“Losing a guy like Mike Miller didn’t make us better,” Riley told The Souix Falls (S.D.) Chamber of Commerce Tuesday in an appearance to promote the Heat’s NBDL team. “We wish him nothing but the best. I’d like to have him back in the seventh game.”


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Re: Report: Mike Miller Considering Lawsuit Against Heat

Postby Barnstable on Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:43 pm

Sounds like Miller has a case if the Heat introduced them and promoted Zafar as being legit even after finding some shadiness.
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Re: Report: Mike Miller Considering Lawsuit Against Heat

Postby XXIV on Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:15 pm

^ Sure seems like it.

The bigger news to me is that he's not on the Heat. :man3:
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Re: Report: Mike Miller Considering Lawsuit Against Heat

Postby therealdeal on Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:07 am

Barnstable wrote:Sounds like Miller has a case if the Heat introduced them and promoted Zafar as being legit even after finding some shadiness.

Yep. If that Heat employee really did stick up for Zafar while representing the Heat, then it's on their shoulders to pay Miller back.
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Re: Report: Mike Miller Considering Lawsuit Against Heat

Postby Rooscooter on Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:47 am

:man3: .... No one on the Heat forced Miller to write the checks and no one on the Heat is acting as Miller's fiduciary.... either legally or implied.

If you are giving someone 3 million dollars to invest you don't trust anyone..... you verify. It sounds like it wasn't that hard to figure out this guy was a scammer.... just because the Heat didn't figure it out sooner doesn't relive Miller from his personal responsibility for his property (his money). No one has a "duty" to investigate someone else as a "suitable partner" unless there is a contract that says so.... it's called a fiduciary release. If it doesn't exist it's over.

It will be a pretty short hearing from what I can see in that article.
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Re: Report: Mike Miller Considering Lawsuit Against Heat

Postby gcclaker on Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:22 pm

Read it...Miller got conned plain and simple.
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Re: Report: Mike Miller Considering Lawsuit Against Heat

Postby S.R.05 on Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:41 pm

mike miller seems smart
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Re: Report: Mike Miller Considering Lawsuit Against Heat

Postby dj vitus on Mon Oct 28, 2013 10:57 am

I can see how Miller might be at fault for not doing enough research. We're talking millions--gotta be careful with that money! But I do think Zafar should definitely be held liable, as they all have contracts, and he needed to fulfill his end of the agreement. And the Heat at least somewhat liable, too, for working with someone they didn't do enough research on, either.

Reminds me of when I had some college friends who got evicted from a condo they were renting because apparently their landlord didn't use the rent to pay the mortgage, and instead squandered the money and left town.
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Re: Report: Mike Miller Considering Lawsuit Against Heat

Postby Rooscooter on Mon Oct 28, 2013 5:06 pm

^^Unless said "contract" specifically lists the Heat as his fiduciary or otherwise transfers power of attorney it's on Miller to decide what to do with his property (money in this case). If this was a "pre-compensation" arrangement (not that uncommon for professional athletes as a way to dodge the tax man) then there might be such a clause in very general terms.

Now, he definitely has a case against the con man but what's going on here in reality is that Miller's attorney is going after the "deep pockets" and trying to associate the Heat with the con man in an attempt to get all of Miller's money back. Typically unsuccessful but also typically tried. Miller should have another attorney to advise him against this because he's most likely being taken again and will be on the hook for attorney fees even if he loses against the Heat..... which, from what is in that article.... he will.
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