Lawyer Claims Ice Cube’s BIG3 Owes Him $25K, Files Lawsuit for Unpaid Legal Fees

Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league, known for its innovative three-on-three half-court play, is facing another legal battle. The league, co-founded by rapper-actor Ice Cube (real name O’Shea Jackson) and business partner Jeffrey Kwatinetz, has been hit with a lawsuit from its former attorney, Lawrence C. Hinkle II, for breach of contract and unpaid legal services.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – AUGUST 07: Ice Cube performs during BIG3 – Week Six at Credit Union 1 Arena on August 07, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

According to legal documents obtained by The Blast, Hinkle accuses the league of repeatedly failing to compensate him for his legal work. He has filed a quantum meruit complaint, seeking reasonable compensation for his efforts. The outlet does not report on the date of filing, although it would appear to be recent.

According to Bloomberg Law, a “Quantum meruit is an equitable claim where a plaintiff seeks payment for its services that benefited a defendant to prevent the defendant from unjustly retaining such benefit.” Quantum meruit claims generally emerge when the plaintiff is hired or encouraged by the defendant to perform work with the expectation of compensation, but no valid contract exists.

BIG3 Didn’t Pay Up?

Hinkle alleges that Ice Cube recruited him in May 2022 during the draft for BIG3’s 2022 season. He was hired at a rate of $700 per hour, with an advance payment of $10,000, which he received in June 2022. He claims the remaining balance of $21,690 for his July services was promised by Aug. 5 but was never paid. Then, from September 2022 to May 2024, Hinkle says he repeatedly contacted BIG3 representatives regarding the overdue payments to no avail.

Hinkle claims BIG3 representatives cited “financial difficulties” as the reason for non-payment and that after initially promising to look into the issue, Ice Cube later ignored his emails.

The documents also reveal that Kwatinetz accused the lawyer of malpractice while working for the basketball league, and that was the reason for the nonpayment. Hinkle replied that he was never made aware the company had any concerns about his work.

The lawyer has requested a jury trial and is seeking $25,000 in damages.

2018 Lawsuit

In 2018, BIG3 was hit by a lawsuit from former chief creative officer Kainoa Henry. Henry alleges that Kwatinetz, a known associate of Steve Bannon, created a hostile work environment with his political discourse and anti-Muslim discriminatory remarks.

Henry claims that he was left with no choice but to resign after relentless discussions about a Qatari investor Kwatinetz claimed was under FBI investigation and had terrorist ties.

According to Henry, he got involved in BIG3 in 2017 after Cube’s production company hired him at first to direct and produce a documentary about Iverson’s return to basketball. He also previously worked with Kwatinetz at production and talent management company The Firm. At The Firm, he represented Snoop Dogg, among others. He states that Kwatinetz tapped him to serve as an “ambassador” between the league and the new investors.

According to Henry’s complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Kwatinetz’s constant praise of Donald Trump’s former advisEr Steve Bannon and Islamophobic comments contributed to an unbearable workplace atmosphere. Henry alleges that Kwatinetz’s remarks and behavior forced him to quit.

The legal chaos surrounding the BIG3 has been dizzying. Ice Cube and Kwatinetz are pursuing Ayman Sabi, a Palestinian-American, and Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, a Qatari, accusing them of failing to deliver promised investments and spreading false statements about the league. Sabi and Al-Rumaihi, on the other hand, allege that Kwatinetz did not implement basic corporate governance after their investment of $11.5 million and additional $9 million in sponsorship funds.

Henry, in his lawsuit, positions himself as caught in the middle of this dispute. Henry alleges that Kwatinetz turned on these investors, making unfounded accusations about their connections to terrorism and their motives for investing in the league.

In addition to the allegations of a hostile work environment, Henry accuses Kwatinetz and Ice Cube of breaching contract, interfering with his business dealings, and retaliating against him. His lawsuit highlights the internal conflicts and political tensions that have plagued the league.

2017 Lawsuit

This lawsuit isn’t the first legal issue for the BIG3. In 2017, the league faced a $250 million lawsuit from the Champions Basketball League (CBL) for allegedly poaching players and proprietary ideas, according to the New York Daily News. The CBL claimed that Ice Cube and his team signed exclusive deals with players initially recruited by the CBL, violating their agreement and undermining the CBL’s efforts. In 2019, Big3 was awarded $21 million in its defamation lawsuit against CBL.

The BIG3 features retired NBA stars like Allen Iverson and Gary Payton.

The BIG3 recently made headlines for a purported bold contract offer to then-NCAA star Caitlin Clark. The former Iowa Hawkeyes guard, reportedly was offered a whopping $5 million contract by Ice Cube to play for the BIG3. This offer allowed her to still play in the WNBA while participating in eight regular season games and two playoff games in the BIG3, should her team qualify. She did not take the ostensible offer.

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