In an ongoing $200 million legal fight, the hip-hop mogul nods to the lack of black arbitrators at AAA & argues that an arbitration clause violates New York's public policy.
JAY-Z (Shawn Carter) is testing out a novel argument in a bid to halt arbitration in his company's licensing dispute with Iconix Brand Group. In a petition filed in New York Supreme Court on Wednesday, the hip-hop mogul argues that a failure of diversity on the part of the American Arbitration Association means he shouldn't have to be compelled to arbitrate at the alternative dispute resolution forum.
"This blatant failure of the AAA to ensure a diverse slate of arbitrators for complex commercial cases is particularly shocking given the prevalence of mandatory arbitration provisions in commercial contracts across nearly all industries, which undoubtedly include minority owned and operated businesses," states the petition handled by litigator Alex Spiro. "The AAA’s arbitration procedures, and specifically its roster of neutrals for large and complex cases in New York, deprive black litigants like Mr. Carter and his companies of the equal protection of the laws, equal access to public accommodations, and mislead consumers into believing that they will receive a fair and impartial adjudication."
Iconix sued in public court and alleged it had spent over $200 million a decade ago to sell "Roc Nation" baseball caps and other merchandise. The company claimed that JAY-Z has undermined the agreement by using or allowing Major League Baseball to exploit the same intellectual property that was conveyed in the deal.