Lawsuit filed and served to PSA/DNA, JSA, Roger Epperson, REAL, Houston Texas, Steve Cyrkin of autograph magazine and LIVE the online forum, and RR Auctions, Bob Eaton, MA

From Courtroom news service: Courthouse News

By. Jonny Bonner

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Autograph dealers, auction houses and authenticators conspire as a "cartel" to push out rival dealers, two memorabilia dealers claim in nearly identical antitrust complaints.


     Defendants in both cases are Collectors Universe dba PSA/DNA, James Spence Authentication, R&R Auction Co., Roger Epperson dba Signed Sealed and Delivered dba Roger Epperson Authentication, Steve Cyrkin dba live.autographmagazine.com, and Momentica.


     Both plaintiffs - Todd Mueller dba Todd Mueller Autographs, and Nelson dba Iconographs- are represented in federal court by the Christman, Kelley and Clarke law firm of Santa Barbara. Mueller is based in Colorado, Deedle in Nevada.


     Authentication is crucial in the memorabilia business, both plaintiffs claim in their July 14 lawsuits. Both say that without authentication, memorabilia are "essentially worthless."
     "Therefore, to ensure the value of their items that they are purchasing, selling, or offering for consignment, dealers, collectors, and auction houses will use third-party authentication services to get a second opinion on the authenticity of an item," both lawsuits say.


     Both claim the defendants refuse to authenticate their celebrity-signed memorabilia "to increase their own market presence." Both say that violates antitrust laws.


     Both say that two of the defendants dominate the authentication business: defendants PSA/DNA and James Spence Authentication. They are two of the third-party authenticators accepted by eBay, the complaints state.


     Mueller dove into the autograph industry as a collector in 1978 and began working as a dealer in the early 1990s. He claims the defendants call his items "questionable" and refuse to authenticated them.


     "Defendants have joined together as a complex association of autograph dealers, auction houses, authenticators, and public personalities to act as the only authority on authenticating items that dealers are attempting to sell to their customers," both lawsuits state.


     Both claim that the defendants, though in the same business, are not true competitors.


     "In addition to sharing the same experts, these seeming 'competitors' in the autograph memorabilia market are not competitors in any sense of the word. Through their shared staff and relationships, the cartel routinely shares information with each other regarding the autographed memorabilia market," both complaints state.Mueller claims that a customer who bought five autographed photos from him, with his own certificates of authenticity, signed by non-parties Shailene Woodley, Jennifer Lopez, Bernadette Peters, Debbie Reynolds and Lindsay Lohan, submitted the items to PSA/DNA for authentication.


     PSA/DNA returned the items as failing authentication, Mueller says, and he was forced to refund the money
     That customer "has never done business with Mueller since," he claims.


     He says Prestige Auctions also refused to sell five autographed items from him with his certificates of authenticity, including photos signed by non-parties Tom Hanks, Dennis Quaid and Cher, Doris Day, Joe Frazier, and Uma Thurman.


     Authenticated, signed photos of Hanks fetch more than $200 online.
     PSA/DNA is currently selling a robe signed by Frazier for $500.


     "This cartel exists to drive out any competition from the market by intentionally failing the authenticity of a dealer's items based on the dealer's identity and not on the item itself,'" Mueller claims.
     Mueller and Deedle both say they want to hold the defendants "responsible" and "break up" the cartel.


     Mueller and Deedle each seek $4 million in damages for antitrust violations, interference, and violation of California consumer laws.

Autograph Planet will follow this and keep you up to date as things progress.

For Steve Cyrkin, These will bring him up to 5 lawsuits, with 2 going on right now.  He has been sued; first by Christopher Morales (dismissed), then Kevin Martin and his company, Piece of the Past (we prevailed), and in another, ongoing lawsuit by Todd Mueller and Todd Mueller Autographs.  In these lawsuits, he has lost every motion, and might be held in contemp of court if he does not follow what the judge has ruled in the case so far.

Any attempt to talk to him about this on his forum has been met with the deletion of the thread, and the person asking the question removed from the forum.  There has been no updates to the ongoing case or the other cases by Mr. Cyrkin, because they are all losing the motions that were filed, and he does not feel that it's "newsworthy"

Again, more on this and the other cases here on Autograph Planet as they become available.

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Replies

  • DB,  Epperson was dismissed in Todd's case, but NOT in Nelson's.  Nelson won jurisdiction. (you have to look at each case separately)

    As far as the Steve Cyrkin's stuff goes, he dropped his names last year,(web sites) right around when the lawsuits were filed.  A computer geek friend of mine said he did that to hide things (more then likely)  Something to do with behind the scenes and tables and stuff. (fake name, ip address stuff like that)

    Either way, this is far from over.  They have until the end of the month to do what they need to do, or they both can go after them at the state levels, so this is all far from over.

    Plus the Johnson case is still going on, with trail dates set or are being set for for this year for the some of the same people. It's also like,how many times can you sue a person, but with a few that are involved, it's about time they get a taste of their own medicine, so I don't feel bad for what is going on.  KARMA!

  • Related to the order below of March 7 2016 another order on March 9 was issued;  Judge Percy Anderson: Defendants Momentica, LLC, and Steve Cyrkin, individually and doing business as live.autographmagazine.com, shall file their responses within 21 days of the filing of a Second AmendedComplaint, if any. (smo)

    In case anyone wonders who Momentica is, that is the "parent" registered LLC company of Cyrkin for Autograph Magazine & his "blog".   The LLC was registered in 2012 in Ca.

  • Looks like this is getting tossed at the federal level.  Epperson portion dismissed outright;   Judge Percy Anderson: Before the Court are three motions to dismiss the First Amended Complaint,39 ,62 ,74 . The hearings calendared for February 29, 2016 are vacated, and the matters taken off calendar. The Court dismisses Plaintiffs' federal claim under Section 1 of the Sherman Act with leave to amend. The claims against Epperson are dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint, if any, shall be filed no later than March 28, 2016. Alternatively, if Plaintiffs elect not to attempt to amend their Sherman Act claim, they may file a Notice of Election to Abandon Federal Claim no later than March 21, 2016. If Plaintiffs elect not to pursue their federal claim, the Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims. Plaintiffs would then be free to pursue their state law claims in state court. (mg)  Memorabilia Cartel Claims Are Weak, Court Told

  • I heard through an anonymous source that Todd Mueller is adding Steve Zarelli and the UACC to his Federal Anti-Trust lawsuits.  Can anyone confirm this?

  • Interesting, Roger Epperson will be represtented by the same lawyers as RR Auctions, Bob Eaton, and PSA/DNA in this federal case.  Wonder why?

  • That's a BINGO!!!   I agree, good for Mr. Mueller and Deddle for standing up to these people.

    I was looking at this: Anti-trust sentencing info

    If this applies to this case, it could be HUGE for those invoved, if, IF convicted.

    This law penalizes illegal restraints of trade and monopolies, or attempts to monopolize, with imprisonment for up to ten years and fines for individuals up to $1,000,000 and, for corporations, up to $100,000,000, or both, in the discretion of the court.

    The sentencing of individuals and organizations convicted of antitrust offenses under section 1 of the Sherman Act is guided by §2R1.1 (Bid-rigging, Price-Fixing or Market- Allocation Agreements Among Competitors)

    The antitrust guideline recommends for theimprisonment component of the sentence of up to 10 years in prison depending on prior criminal history

    This case is going to be something to watch.  More people can join them also, making this a huge case.  I'm sure more autograph dealers will want to join, if they have been harmed, which lets face it, i'm sure everybody has.

  • Good for Todd and Nelson!!!  

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