Less than a month after launching the Players Club, a magazine for professional athletes, Lenny Dykstra—the former New York Mets star and car wash millionaire turned unlikely stock market guru—is suing Doubledown Media, the company he partnered with to launch the magazine, for control over its yet-to-be-published second issue.
Dykstra filed suit on April 25, accusing Doubledown Media’s Randall Lane of breach of contract. Lane and Doubledown—which also publishes Trader Monthly, Dealmaker and the Cigar Report—filed an explosive counterclaim on Tuesday, alleging Dykstra owes Doubledown more than a half million dollars.
‘A Mercurial, Difficult Client’
Dykstra hired Doubledown last July to act as a custom publisher for the launch of the Players Club. According to documents filed in the U.S. Southern District Court of New York, Doubledown says the relationship "began with much optimism" but "rapidly soured in 2008."
"Over a relatively short period of time," the complaint states, "Dykstra proved himself to be a mercurial, difficult client whose many idiosyncrasies and demanding personality imposed substantial costs on the planned publications and created excessive burdens for Doubledown. At the same time, Dykstra began shirking his financial obligations to Doubledown beginning in late 2007 and continuing into 2008, repeatedly driving up expenses and increasing the overall costs of publications at a time when he … lacked the cash to pay for such expenses."
Specifically, Dykstra’s failure to make a scheduled $260,000 payment in December led Doubledown to conclude that the former all-star "had cash-flow problems." In December, Doubledown alleges, Dykstra asked if he and the Players Club "could piggy-back off the line of credit a finance company had extended" to publish Doubledown’s own magazines.
Doubledown alleges that Dykstra insisted the magazine launch as a monthly, publish in a much larger physical size and that Doubledown even create a Spanish-language edition, driving up the costs of producing the magazine. Additionally, Dykstra’s insistence on hiring an extra design consultant—Time magazine’s Art Hochstein—generated "tens of thousands of dollars of unnecessary costs." A "single assignment alone," the counterclaim states, cost $60,000.
As their partnership fizzled, Dykstra retained American Express Publishing to handle publishing of the Players Club, court documents show.
The $400K Launch Party
Even before the magazine’s first issue was published—while Dykstra was planning the Players Club’s flashy $400,000 April launch party at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan "against Doubledown’s strong recommendations" (see related slideshow)—Doubledown had grown "weary" of the business relationship and moved to settle the partnership following publication of the second issue.
"Doubledown’s willingness to agree to such a resolution and to proceed with the printing and distribution of the second issue of the Players Club magazine, which Dykstra was late in paying for, was conditioned on the immediate payment by TPC and Dykstra of the compromise sum of $328,000 owed to Doubledown under the parties’ contracts that TPC and Dykstra had never paid," Doubledown alleges. "Another $200,000 would be paid within thirty days to cover non-production costs associated with the third issue, incurred as a consequence of Doubledown’s commencement of work on that issue." Dykstra, Doubledown says, went back on his word.
In all, Doubledown claims Dykstra owes the company $587,210.
Dykstra says that Doubledown used his name to develop a financial newsletter, The Dykstra Report, without his consent; Doubledown claims that there was consent, and offered the court an e-mail from Lane to Dykstra detailing agreed-to terms.
Doubledown declined to comment while the case is pending. A representative for Dykstra did not immediately return a request seeking comment.