FORT LAUDERDALE -- Professional tennis star Naomi Osaka and her family are seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the athlete’s former coach, alleging that an agreement made when the athlete was a minor is null and void due to her age.
And the family may have a pretty solid case, said a Miami attorney specializing in entertainment, media and sports law.
According to an article published in the Miami Herald, Osaka and her family filed the motion to dismiss in the Broward County Circuit Court on April 8, against Christophe Jean, Osaka’s former coach.
Osaka is currently ranked by the Women's Tennis Association as the No. 1 women's tennis player in the world and is the reigning singles champion at the US Open and Australian Open.
Jean and Osaka’s father, Leonard Francois, allegedly entered into an agreement March 21, 2012, to pay Jean 20% of his daughter's’ future earnings, for which he would provide free coaching. However, as Osaka and her sister were 14 and 15 at the signing of the agreement, the family argues the agreement should not be binding.
Ivan Parron of Parron Law, a Miami entertainment, media and sports firm, commented on the nature of the case.
“The biggest issue with it is that is is missing a lot of basic things that a contract requires to be official,” Parron told the Florida Record.
Parron said, in Florida a representative cannot contract with a minor and expect the agreement to be enforceable.
As such, Parron expects the dismissal request to be received favorably by the judge for the plaintiffs.
"The problem is that the agreement really failed to provide certain details," Parron said.
Although Parron said that this type of dispute happens fairly regularly, the law is specially designed to protect minors.
“The law for business with minor athletes or entertainers is a state-to-state issue that is designed to protect minors from getting taken advantage of and being conned into unfair agreements,” Parron said. “There are also things such as the Coogan Acts of California, which require that the guardian of a minor creates trust account so that funds go into a trust account until they are of age.”