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Legal Battle Over EPM NASCAR Sponsorship Going To Mediation

David Krechevsky
Apr 18, 2023
Cash and gavel

Equity Prime Mortgage, Jesse Iwuji Motorsports to meet with mediator next week.

The legal battle between Jesse Iwuji Motorsports (JIM) and Equity Prime Mortgage (EPM) over a $6 million, two-year NASCAR sponsorship will head to mediation next week.

Judge Beth Bloom in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida signed an order on April 12 requiring the two parties to participate in a mediation conference set for April 25 at 10 a.m. with attorney Giselle Leonardo in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Both parties have agreed to Leonardo as the mediator.

The order also states that, “On or before April 28, 2023, the parties shall file a mediation report indicating whether all required parties participated in the mediation. The report shall also indicate whether the case settled (in full or in part), the mediation was continued with the consent of the parties, [and] whether the mediator declared an impasse….”

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It adds that, the parties “may not reschedule the mediation without leave of court.”

The mediation stems from a lawsuit and counter-lawsuit filed in the case. 

The lawsuit was filed Dec. 5, 2022, by JIM, an American stock car racing team founded in 2021 by Jesse Iwuji and NFL Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith that competes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The suit named mortgage lender EPM as the lone defendant.

In its lawsuit, JIM alleged that in September 2022 — just as mortgage rates were doubling and home sales were plummeting — EPM stopped making the monthly payments required to maintain the agreement. Even as the payments were halted, the plaintiffs claimed, EPM was still benefiting from the agreement by bringing guests to a race at Talladega, Fla., on Oct. 2, 2022

According to the complaint, under the agreement EPM remains “responsible for paying JIM the entirety of the compensation” set forth in the contract, and that it is still owed $4.125 million. JIM also sought damages, as well as attorney’s fees and court costs.

The lawsuit was initially dismissed by Bloom, stating the plaintiffs had failed to establish the court’s jurisdiction. The suit was dismissed without prejudice, which allowed it to be refiled. It was later refiled and resolved the venue issue.

In February, EPM filed a counterclaim alleging that JIM violated the terms of the agreement by replacing its lead driver without notifying the Atlanta-based lender. EPM officials claim JIM knowingly concealed violating the agreement and subsequently acknowledged it to the defendants in a meeting in May, several months before JIM filed its initial lawsuit.

If the mediation fails to reach an agreement, the case has been scheduled for trial beginning on Feb. 12, 2024.

Apr 18, 2023
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