WASHINGTON -- The parents of basketball star Len Bias, who died of cocaine intoxication a year ago today, have sued their son's former agent, an insurance company and a shoe manufacturer for $6.6 million.
The 54-page civil suit, filed Thursday in District of Columbia Superior Court, seeks damages from agent A. Lee Fentress; Fentress's firm, Advantage International, Inc.; the Fidelity Security Company and Reebok shoes.
'He clearly was not treated fairly, and duties owed to him have not been satisfied,' family attorney Wayne Curry said.
Bias, the University of Maryland's all-time leading scorer, died June 19, 1986. The 22-year-old had been selected two days earlier by the Boston Celtics in the NBA draft.
The 15-count suit includes 12 counts against Fentress and Advantage International, including fraud, negligence, negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract. There are two counts against Reebok and one count against the insurance company.
The suit says Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company, of Kansas City, Mo., reneged on a $1 million disability and accidental death policy. The suit contends Bias's death was an 'accidental bodily injury.'
The suit asks $1 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages and court costs from Fentress and Advantage International. Fentress is the principal managing partner of the Washington-based firm.
The suit claims Fentress and the firm promised Bias they would purchase disability and life insurance for him, took money from the basketball star's personal bank account, but never bought life insurance and purchased only a disability policy, which had an accidental death clause.
'(Fentress and Advantage's) interest centered not around Len Bias but around their own individual economic welfare. It was only after Len Bias's death that much of the questionable activities involving Fentress and Advantage have come to light,' the suit says.
Reebok International Ltd., of Canton, Mass., reneged on a $1,625,000 endorsement contract, neither written nor signed. The suit claims an oral contract was made and that Bias had already performed services for the athletic shoe giant.
Fentress could not comment until he reviews the suit, a spokesman for the agent said. Officials of Fidelity Security and Reebok were unavailable for comment.
Stephen Sfekas, another lawyer for the Bias family, said Bias's estate and the Bias family were nearly bankrupt. He called it a coincidence that the suit was filed nearly one year to the day of Bias's death. The suit was filed by James Bias on behalf of his son's estate.