Another Jock, Another Lawsuit

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For the past several weeks, I’ve been thinking about writing a blog.  Why?  Because I like to write and without being on the air full time for nearly 10 months (hard to believe it’s been that long), I’ve really had A LOT of things to say about a variety of topics.  But today, I received major motivation in the form of a tip sent to my email.

“Mo is suing Donnie and Okey is representing him.”

My source was nice enough to forward me the complaint – which you can read in its entirety at the end of this post. For those of you with shorter attention spans, let’s break it down.

The Complaint

Filed on June 8, 2016 in the Court of Common Pleas in Stark County, Mo “Bryan Modezelewski” is listed as the Plaintiff and DA Peterson, Inc as the Defendant.  The charges alleged are for breach of contract and ask for a declaratory judgement for damages.

The complaint filed states that Mo entered into a 4 year contractual agreement with WDJQ “on or about” March 1, 2013.  That said contract was set to expire on March 4, 2017 at 12:01 AM.

As in my contract with WDJQ, the suit alleges the station could terminate the contract at any time with or without notice, so long as at least 15 days pay is given to Mo.  The document goes on to detail that on February 15, 2016, DA Peterson materially breached Modezelewski’s agreement by terminating his employment without notice or 15 days pay.

The Termination

As is always the case whenever anything happens in Canton radio, as soon as Mo disappeared from the airwaves I received phone calls, texts, and a flurry of Facebook messages.  It was a surprise, and even given our much publicized feuds of the past I did reach out to wish him the best and tell him I’d help him if I could.  He texted me a quick reply of “thanks man”, and that’s been the last I’ve heard from him.

Rumors abounded.  As with my exit of WHBC, Stansbury crowed he’d gotten Mo fired.  The town was talking and everyone wanted to know why Mo was wiped from the Q92 world.

According to paragraph 9 of the formal complaint:

The defendant’s immediate termination of the plaintiff’s employment  without  cause and without notice or pay was based exclusively upon the defendant’s single allegation  of “deceit, dishonesty or wrongful appropriation for personal use or benefit of Company property or money.” Said allegation by the defendant is false and wrongful, making the defendant’s immediate termination of the plaintiff’s employment without cause and without notice or pay a clear and material breach of the contract and a violation of the defendant’s duties and obligations under the contract.

WDJQ fired Mo because DA Peterson management claimed he was stealing.  What was the actual allegation?  We will likely have to wait until trial (if it gets that far) to hear the reasoning.  My guess would be that the station alleged Mo was benefiting from the use of the air to make money on the side – a sort of payola.  This is just a guess and is my pure conjecture.

The Damages

In the lawsuit filed, Mo and his attorney (the amazing Steve Okey) are asking for a total of $50,000.  That amount is derived from 54 weeks that Modezelewski is prohibited from working within his field because of a non-compete ($36,159.65 plus missed remote and talent fee opportunities).

The second claim of the suit asks for the court to make a declaratory judgement in the amount of $50,000, plus legal fees, and “other relief to which the plaintiff may be entitled, even if not specifically requested in this complaint”.  It also asks for Mo to be relieved from other surviving provisions in his contract – such as his non compete clause.

My Opinion

Four years ago (almost to the day), I filed suit against Don Peterson and WDJQ.  I was originally listed as a defendant, after DA Peterson filed suit against me for streaming my show online after I was fired for not signing a similar contract to what Mo had signed.  Our countersuit was meant as a “punch back” and answer to WDJQ’s suit, and we ultimately won – setting a major precedent in non compete law (see DeLuca vs. DA Peterson).

Mr. Peterson loves to wave his authority around his employees.  In my decade of experience working for him, I was routinely lied to, had money unlawfully withheld from my pay, was disrespected and made to feel real hostility in the workplace.  With his Godlike complex, he reigns supreme over his dominion at 393 Smyth Avenue.  Meanwhile what I like to call “Donnie logic” doesn’t really bode well in a court setting.  If what has been alleged by Mo and Attorney Okey is true and WDJQ failed to pay him for his 15 days, I don’t see how Donnie won’t lose yet another case.

We’ll have to await DA Peterson’s response which is normally filed within 30 days to find out more.

Most shocking to me was Mo’s meager salary, which you can see by scrolling down thru the complaint.  According to his own base salary, he made around $15,000 less than me per year.  My top earning year was also my last – 2011.  I topped out at around $74,000 before taxes.

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