Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has filed a lawsuit against his former attorney and business partner, alleging that he was duped out of more than $1.5 million after lending his name to a development project in Hunt Valley that never materialized.
In the lawsuit, filed against Marc Seldin Rosen in Baltimore Circuit Court, Lewis alleges that he believed he was only lending his name and likeness to the MVP Lanes entertainment complex, a Hunt Valley bowling alley project.
Lewis alleges that Rosen persuaded him to sign a line of credit that the attorney used to obtain $1.5 million for the project, announced in 2009. Lewis said he has been on the hook for the loan and has never been paid back.
The lawsuit, filed late last week, alleges legal malpractice, breach of contract and fraud, among other counts. Lewis' current attorney, Steven Freeman of Towson, declined to comment on the lawsuit, and Rosen did not return a call seeking comment.
Jeffrey M. Kotz, an attorney who represented MVP Lanes LLC during the project, said in a statement that the allegations are false and that Lewis was "integrally involved from the outset" and "knowingly made his financial commitments."
"The MVP project was a business venture that failed, but that does not justify Mr. Lewis rewriting history in a lawsuit," Kotz said.
Lewis and Rosen worked together for years, and Rosen was a member of the board of directors for Lewis' nonprofit foundation.
The sports-themed development project was to include a bowling alley, an arcade and restaurants, with visions of it becoming a national chain. At the time, Lewis was said to have a majority stake, with Rosen and Rosen's wife as minority partners.
"Instead of putting on a helmet, you put on a tie and a suit," Lewis said in 2009 about the project. "That's where my next phase in life is going — the building and giving back to who we are in this world."
In the lawsuit, Lewis says he only lent his "name and likeness to the project for the purpose of attracting potential investors and promoting the project."
"Lewis then inquired whether his proposed involvement with the project would carry with it any potential negative legal and/or financial ramifications, and was assured by Rosen that it would not and that Lewis' own money would never be touched," the lawsuit states.
Lewis alleges that in early 2010, with the project in need of financing, Rosen persuaded him "unwittingly" to take out a line of credit that Rosen used to obtain $1.5 million, according to the suit. Lewis says he again was assured that he wouldn't have to lend any money to the project or be responsible for any losses.
Another $200,000 was obtained in January 2011 and transferred to an account related to the project, Lewis says in the suit. Rosen made interest payments on the loan until 2013, at which point he stopped and Lewis was required to make them to avoid default.
MVP is now out of business, and the project has been abandoned.
The project's troubles were apparent by 2012, with subcontractors filing suit against MVP and MVP suing a New England financier for failing to deliver on funds.