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Zion Williamson required to answer question about illegal benefits at Duke, judge rules

A Florida state judge denied Zion Williamson’s protective order request filed to block his former marketing agent’s inquiry into illegal benefits he allegedly received while at Duke.

Florida 11th Circuit Court Judge David Miller ruled that the case will continue in discovery and Williamson will be required to answer questions and requests for admissions, as reported by ESPN. Gina Ford, the former marketing agent, has served requests that Williamson admit family members accepted illegal benefits to go to Duke.

It’s part of dueling lawsuits between the New Orleans Pelicans rookie and Ford, president of Prime Sports Marketing, who has said Williamson signed a deal with the agency ahead of the 2019 NBA draft.

Williamson expected to appeal

Williamson’s attorneys are expected to file an appeal in the case, per ESPN, and argue that an earlier federal case in North Carolina with the same parties and claims has precedence. Via ESPN:

Williamson's attorneys have asked a federal judge in that case to void his marketing agreement with Ford and Prime Sports Marketing, claiming it wasn't valid because Ford wasn't a registered agent in North Carolina and the contract didn't include a warning that was required by a state law designed to protect amateur athletes from unscrupulous agents.

Daniel Wallach, a legal analyst with The Athletic, believes it will be reversed.

Williamson legal battles continue with ruling

Ford and Prime Sports Marketing LLC said that shortly after the Duke star declared for the draft, he signed a five-year contract with the company. Less than a month later, he terminated the deal and signed with Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

Williamson’s side said that the contract was unlawful in North Carolina and sued the agency first. They said she fraudulently exaggerated her credentials and said she was neither certified by the NBA or registered in either North Carolina or Florida.

Then Ford and Prime Sports sued for $100 million, saying Williamson broke his contract and CAA interfered. She filed a request for admission that Williamson knew his mother, Sharonda Sampson, and stepfather, Lee Anderson, allegedly received illegal benefits to ensure Williamson attended Duke and wore Nike shoes.

In late May, Williamson’s lawyers filed to keep the star from answering questions into the eligibility requests. They called the requests “invasive” and “irrelevant.”

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson will be required to address allegations of accepting illegal benefits on a court order. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)

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