According to court documents, the lawsuit filed against former Wizard exec Shephen Shamus for Breach of Contract and Misappropriation of Corporate Assets (among other things) was settled last month. No terms were announced.
As you may recall, last November, Wizard sued Shamus, who had been Chief Marketing Officer at Wizard for years, for $1 million in damages, claiming he had caused damage to the company by stealing memorabilia and setting unrealistically high fees, among other things. Shamus filed a countersuit alleging that he was owed more than $500,000 in stock payouts and wages, citing a 2011 contract signed by his brother Gareb, then head of the company.
Although there a lot of court documents filed, (and we haven’t read all of them) a lot of this came down to a he said/he said argument. Current company execs, including CEO John Maata said they’d never seen the 2011 contract and it had never been honored so they weren’t about to start honoring it. There was also the matter of a company laptop that was destroyed. According to Shamus’s countersuit, the laptop was destroyed during an emotional ourburst while he was upset over nor receiving the money he thought he was owed. (Text of complaint removed at Shamus’s request.)
Wizard’s lawyers did not have much sympathy for this account, saying
A third ground exists for denial of the motion. Notwithstanding the imminence of litigation, Stephen Shamus destroyed his Wizard World laptop, allegedly in a fit of despondency. His colorful story, [redacted], has a “dog ate my homework” quality. Plaintiff anticipates establishing that the destruction of evidence was willful. Indeed, Defendant’s claims are at serious risk of dismissal due to his blatant destruction of crucial evidence. Accordingly, Defendant has failed to meet the high threshold to justify the imposition of an attachment.
They also claim that Shamus became “rude” to Maata late last year as his termination become more likely:
Shamus became increasingly subordinate in the fall of 2016, and complained to the CEO, John Maatta, that he resented being “passed over” for the CEO position twice. Shamus refused to respond to the CEO, and directed all communications to his lawyer.
That’s about it for dirt in the stuff we read. As far as Shamus “misappropriating” company property, in talking about this case with Senior Industry Figures, it’s been noted that when a celebrity convention guest fails to make their guarantee – in other words doesn’t sell as many autographs as they were contracted for – the con has to pay the difference but the celeb will often give signed merch as a trade for the difference. I’m told that for veteran con runners this often means a garage full of basically worthless Purple Power Ranger autographs. While there might be a FEW autographs that have a high value – such as Stan Lee – because of the sheer number of shows these celebs do, there’s no real after market for just plan autographs.
Which isn’t to say that there might not have been some valuable collectibles being signed and sold. But you’d have to have a pretty big garage to hold $1 million worth of them.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.