The legal battle between esports pro Tfue and FaZe Clan will continue on both coasts, as a New York federal judge has declined to stay the case that’s before him.
Turner “Tfue” Tenney in May sued his former gaming organization, alleging his contract is “oppressive” and FaZe Clan is entitled to take too much of his earnings and is putting its interests before its players. He also filed a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner, arguing that his gamer agreement is unenforceable because of California’s Talent Agencies Act, which precludes anyone but an agent from procuring work for an artist. Historically, this has only applied to those in traditional entertainment industries like film, TV and radio, but Tenney argues it should apply to esports stars, too.
FaZe Clan countersued Tenney in New York, alleging the Fortnite star was stealing its secrets to launch a competitor and withholding revenue, and the gamer asked the court to either dismiss that suit or stay it until the California proceedings play out.
U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff denied that request, finding it “appears to be an obvious attempt by defendant to avoid a binding and enforceable forum selection clause.” (The gamer agreement dictates that any disputes will be litigated in New York.) Tenney relied on the Colorado River abstention doctrine, which Rakoff explains gives the court the power to decline a case under exceptional circumstances in order to conserve judicial resources. The judge wasn’t convinced to give up jurisdiction.
While denying the motion means the parties are litigating in three forums concurrently, Rakoff isn’t concerned about the potential for conflicting results because a decision in any of the proceedings would likely “have a preclusive effect in the other two.”
Read the full order below.