Terrell Owens is no stranger to reality television shows, and the Pro Football Hall of Famer’s latest lawsuit could qualify for an episode of Storage Wars.
Owens is accusing an Atlanta-area based storage company of stealing his football memorabilia and selling it without his knowledge. He’s filed a $1 million lawsuit in a federal court in Atlanta, according to documents obtained by Sports Collectors Daily.
The 45-year-old former wide receiver and six-time Pro Bowl selection filed his lawsuit June 21 in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, against Atlanta Peach Movers, Inc., located in Doraville, a northeastern suburb of Atlanta. He is seeking a jury trial to hear the case.
Owens claims in the lawsuit the storage company unlawfully retained and sold some of his memorabilia, which was subsequently sold at an auction.
The lawsuit alleges the items taken from storage unit include – “but are not limited to” — Owens’ game-used and practice jerseys, helmets and other equipment; game-used items worn by Owens’ teammates and opponents; awards, plaques and trophies; artwork and photographs; artwork and photographs; autographed uniforms, shoes and other “rare football-related items”; and “one of a kind” and prototype shoes developed by Nike and other shoe manufacturers.
According to TMZ Sports, other items included a custom bust of Owens, old playbooks and a copy of a non-disclosure agreement.
Owens, the flamboyant and controversial wide receiver known as “T.O.”, played 15 seasons in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals. He caught 1,078 passes for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns during the regular season and added five TD catches in the playoffs. Owens was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018 but refused to attend the induction ceremonies, choosing instead to celebrate with fans in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he played college football.
In his lawsuit, Owens claims he learned in March 2019 that his memorabilia had been sold at auction by Atlanta Peach Movers. The buyer of the storage unit, Jim Rice, owner of Jan’s Used Furniture in Griffin, Georgia, told WSB-TV in Atlanta he bought the contents of the storage unit for $4,000.
In April 2019, Rice told the television station many of the items from the unit had already sold.
“You better run fast to get some of these items,” Rice told collectors and fans in the interview with WSB.
According to the civil complaint in federal court, Owens claimed he leased a self-storage unit from Atlanta Peach Movers to store his football memorabilia. In 2014, Owens claims he removed what he thought was the entirety of his property from the facility and settled his account.
According to an exhibit attached to the lawsuit, an April 10, 2019, email from Owens’ attorney, Matthew S. Johns, to David Oso of Atlanta Peach Movers claimed Maxwell Morris, an employee of the storage company, confirmed on July 14, 2014, that all of the player’s property had been removed from the unit and that his account was paid in full. Johns also said that between 2014 and 2016, neither Owens nor his manager, Heather Mesalam, had received any “communications, invoices, or requests for payment” from Atlanta Peach Movers.
The case took a different twist two years later.
Johns wrote that in the fall of 2016, Mesalam received an email from Maisha Williams of Atlanta Peach Movers, indicating that despite Maxwell’s earlier confirmation, an outstanding balance remained. Johns requested copies of the rental agreement between Owens and the storage company, copies of invoices, bills and requests for payment, and copies of documents related to the auction of the players’ property, including pre-auction notices.
Owens claims in his lawsuit his attorney never received those documents. In his complaint, Owens said claims by employees at Atlanta Peach Movers were “false and deceptive,” and that the defendants “unlawfully retained” and sold the football player’s collection without his knowledge or consent.
In another exhibit attached to the complaint, Johns emailed Atlanta Peach Movers President and CEO Orlando Lynch on April 22, 2019, asserting “you have intentionally refused to provide Mr. Owens with documents and communications regarding his account to which he has an absolute right to receive. We have been patient. But given your conduct, our patience is now expired.”
After five failed attempts to obtain the requested documents, Owens filed the lawsuit two months later.
The lawsuit claims the sale violated several provisions of the Georgia Self-Service Storage Act by failing to notify Owens that his memorabilia would be sold and failing to publish notification of an impending sale.
And there is the catch. Since the items have been sold to third parties by Rice, Owens believes it would be difficult to recover the memorabilia, according to the lawsuit. Therefore, he is seeking monetary damages from Atlanta Peach Movers.
The lawsuit alleges Atlanta Peach Movers “concealed its theft and unlawful sale of Mr. Owens’ property through a deliberate pattern of fraud and deception spanning several years.”
Owens seeks damages, attorney fees and costs, and other relief because of Atlanta Peach Movers’ “improper and unlawful sale” of his memorabilia.