A Fulton County jury awarded $500,000 to a man who said he was owed nearly $5 million by Andrew “Bo” Young III from the proceeds of the 2017 sale of Bounce TV.
Plaintiff Bernard Parks’ suit originally included Young’s famous father, former Atlanta Mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, as well as Martin Luther King III, but they were dismissed during the course of the litigation.
Kyler Wise, who led a trial team including fellow Wilson Brock & Irby partner Larry Dingle and Atlanta solo Michael Welch, said they were pleased with the verdict.
“It was a hard-fought trial,” Wise said in an email. “I thought that defense counsel did a great job and represented their client well. On behalf of Mr. Parks, we are happy with, and respect, the jury’s decision.”
Despite the award of a half-million dollars, lead defense counsel Drew Findling, who represented Bo Young and his company AY3 LLC, said he was also gratified with the outcome.
“Obviously this was a devastating blow to the plaintiff; he wanted nearly $5 million, and he basically got 10 percent of what he asked for,” said Findling, noting that the jury found for the defense on nearly all the plaintiff’s claims and declined to award attorney fees or punitive damages.
“The plaintiff had some very dedicated and hard-working attorneys,” said Findling, who defended the case with Findling Law Firm colleagues Marissa Goldberg and Zachary Kelehear and Law & Moran partner Pete Law.
According to case filings, the case began in 2011 when former Turner Broadcasting executive Ryan Glover set out to launch Bounce TV as “a start-up television production company which was owned and controlled by African-Americans” focused on programming for black viewers.
Parks, an Atlanta music promoter and manager, knew Glover and arranged a meeting between Glover and Bo and Andrew Young and King. The Youngs and King agreed to become “founding members” in what Parks’ complaint described as an effort to lend credibility to the startup.
The founding members were rewarded with a 10 percent equity share, with Bo Young getting 5.5 percent of the share. According to Parks’ complaint, he and Bo Young agreed to split Young’s share equally, but that deal was never memorialized on paper.
Parks was also given a 1 percent equity share for bringing the other three on board.
In 2017 broadcaster E.W. Scripps bought Bounce, resulting in a nearly $16 million payout to the founding members. Later that year, Parks sued AY3, both Youngs and King, saying he was owed $4.4 million.
Parks’ complaint included claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, money had and received, promissory estoppel and breach of fiduciary duty.
Shortly after the suit was filed, Bo Young filed a counterclaim for assault against Parks, claiming he had threatened to “kick your ass” and “fuck you up” and had a history of violence.
Last year, Parks voluntarily dismissed his claims against King and the elder Young.
The case went to trial Feb. 25 before Superior Court Judge Kelly Lee Ellerbe.
Findling said Parks’ own testimony may have been the most important factor for the jury.
“During my cross-examination, he admitted that, after Bounce started in 2011, he basically had no role from 2012 through 2017,” Findling said.
During that time, “my client was flying around the country promoting Bounce TV,” he said.
Young’s assault claim was “minimally addressed,” he said, noting that that claim had been filed before he was involved in the case.
In closing, he said Parks’ lawyers asked for about $4.8 million in damages.
On Feb. 28, the jury took five or six hours to find for the defense on all claims except for unjust enrichment, awarding $500,000.
They found for Parks on Young’s assault claim.
In speaking to a juror afterward, Findling said, “it seemed rather obvious that the award in many ways adopted our theory that the plaintiff offered no labor from 2012 to 2017, and they clearly rejected the verbal contract claim.”
The award, he said, “appeared to be some way to address the effort the plaintiff put in back in 2011.”