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, 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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  • Must have missed that Judges Order - post the link on it as neither summary has nothing of the sort.  Hope we are not making stuff up.

    as far as the "rock solid", the case has not been dismissed.  there is an appeal of a ruling in appellate that was filed and until that is settled the local case stalls would be my view.  You are referring to a "notice" that has not bee acted upon as far as the records show.  Unless you can post an order (link & reference number) that it has been dismissed it is still in play..

  • If he couldn't keep his "rock solid case" against Todd open, and that was dismissed for "WANT OF PROSECUTION", All he did was talk about how he was going to "mop the court floor with him" and he couldn't prove he sent one email, or posted one post, hard to do when a lawyer is there and you can't just make stuff up though, (so I hear) he's way late in going after you Vanderhoven!  (IMO)

    On the other hand, Michael Johnson is doing a fine job of "mopping the floor" (according to court documents) of said individual, and i've already bought my popcorn for his video depo's which he can't hide from forever...

  • I heard that the current Authenticator, '
    "Waddles McGee" is laughed at behind his back? Seems he had no idea how he is being used. It is an ongoing joke at the clubhouse to make up "Waddles McGee" jokes, but when he calls and asks for his money they all massage him and tell him he's number one. It's an ongoing joke over there and Waddles still hasn't figured it out yet.
  • Not good PR to have the folks at rr auction let their thugs err authenticators attack competitors.  Wouldn't look good if all their authenticators wind up getting sued.  But if the shill bidding claims are true they may want to make Sammy the Bull another expert on their staff.

  • "No life-size, female, cardboard cutouts were harmed in the process of making this video!"
  • Two shots of tequila max, Butthead, any more and you are cheating!
  • Remember when Butthead threatened to sue The Vanderhoven?

    Well The Vanderhoven is offering this guitar challenge, give it all you got Butthead, Beavis is waiting, wad u learn from George Harrison and Tom pretty? Time to show the world. Climb up from under that rock?

    All else is just nonsense!
  • I agree, I think this is far from over.

    What I don't understand is why RR auction house doesn't reign in their so-called authenticators.  These guys continue to attack competitors of RR auction house.  That Zarelli fella is a real zero.  Came out of nowhere and seems to know nothing at all but how to blog and attack people and competitors from rr auction house.  He even sits as an ethics head at the UACC.  Wow, that speaks volumes of how bad the UACC has become.

    I read the judges orders just a minute ago and did anyone else notice what he stated?

    "The Honorable Percy Anderson, United States District judge on March 7, 2016 states; "Defendants" (PSA, JSA, RR AUCTION, Roger Epperson and Steve Cyrkin) opinions regarding the authenticity of collectibles [autographs] are not necessarily correct."

  • I took it that he won on it as it was not mentioned.  Could be wrong I guess.

    I agree, a lot of money on legal fees for nothing.

    As far as Johnson goes, if it really was "frivolous" as you state, it would have been tossed YEARS ago, this is going on how many years?  RR is on how many different sets of lawyers now?  Johnson has won motion after motion after motion.  You can't say that this case has no merit when all he does is win.  I don't even see him not getting that class action status as a loss.  All that means is that he would have had to share things with a group of people, now everything is solely on him, which isn't a bad thing.  

    It was kind of hard for him to get the class action when he couldn't get anybody to advertise that he had the case going, especially in the state of California  but that's for another time, and maybe another case.

    I guess we just see it differently, but when you look at the big picture, and you see all the "W's" on his side and all the "L's" on theirs, it's hard to say, yeah, he's going to lose.  Stranger thing's have happened.  The Patriots did win all those games that year and did lose in the Superbowl, but for some reason, I just don't see it going down the same way.  That's me though.

  • I don't see any Jurisdiction rulings.  It's the same wording and the same judge.  Epperson was not referenced in the summary but I would think omission -vs- jurisdiction, at the moment.    Seems alot of money is being spent on legal fees.

    As far as Johnson is concerned, I consider it frivolous based on all the information I have read on it with regards to the "original complaint" and claims.  He lost the big enchilada when a class action never materialized.  How the rest of it winds up remains to be seen.   

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