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Radio personality Mobile Mike has sued the powerful Seminole Tribe of Florida that runs the Hard Rock casino and entertainment complex in Hollywood, saying the tribe cut him out of a deal that would have paid his companies a whopping $250 million.
Mobile Mike, a fixture on South Florida radio, says the tribe reneged on a deal worth a fortune that was etched in stone – he signed it and performed for a while – right until they gave the business to one of their own. He said he’s worried the tribe will try to use sovereign immunity to cut him off.
As most South Florida residents know, American Indian tribes such as the Seminoles have what's known as sovereign immunity, meaning they are basically a separate part of the U.S. That protects them under all kinds of legal claims and situations.
“Who are they? Are they better than everyone else? We go down here. We support their casinos,” Mobile Mike said. “We take our hard earned money and go spend it there. So is it ok for them to go around and basically screw everybody. I don't think it is."
The man who's spent two decades behind the microphone and rubbing shoulders with sports, music superstars and even presidents exclusively told NBC 6 that he had no choice but to file the legal action in Broward Circuit Court Wednesday. The plaintiffs are his companies Mobile Mike Media Group LLC, or MMMG, and MMP Promotions Inc.
He claims the Seminoles signed the contract in January 2012 and entered into a business deal for him to provide the marketing services for not just the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, but all of the tribe’s gaming properties in Florida.
"Six months later I never got a nickel from them,” Mobile Mike said.
He said the tribe's leaders took his deal and gave it to Sally Tommie, a tribal member. Tommie called the NBC 6 station Wednesday afternoon. NBC 6 left phone and email messages for her and went to her office, and her staff said that she could not be located.
Tommie is one of seven people named as a defendant in the lawsuit in addition to the tribe.
Mobile Mike said he opened a Dania Beach warehouse facility to handle the business, and showed NBC 6 his invoices huge amounts he said were never paid. He estimates that his out-of-pocket losses were $1.2 million.
"I've already lost everything,” Mobile Mike said.
Mobile Mike said he and his employees would have made $250 million under the 10-year deal.
The lawsuit alleges that "… the Tribe engaged in a carefully planned and orchestrated, intricate, multi-step, sinister and devious course of action to divest MMP of its interest in the media company and acting as an agent of record to benefit a tribal member whose brother serves on the Tribal Board."
Mobile Mike said, “That's basically what they did to me right behind my back. They pulled the plug on me."
The Seminole Tribe told NBC 6 that it is not its policy to comment on pending lawsuits, and that it believes it is a target for frivolous litigation under many circumstances.
Mobile Mike’s attorney Gary Phillips said, "In this situation when they breached this contract they entered into an agreement that said they waive sovereign immunity. We've also sued the individuals who can't hide behind the veil of sovereign immunity so we believe we can proceed with this action against them.”
While his lawyer is hopeful, Mobile Mike worries the sovereign immunity that protects the tribe and its lands will be used to ground his battle.
"They hide behind this facade of a veil of sovereign immunity. They claim no, you can't sue us,” he said. “You can’t touch us, it doesn't matter if we have a contract, it doesn't matter, we have sovereign immunity.”