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Former AVP Owner Drops Lawsuit


Nick Lewin is officially letting go. Yes, the embattled former owner of the AVP sold the property to Donald Sun, who is now at the helm and working to revive it. But there was one more piece of the puzzle that Lewin had his hands in. DFA PVA II Partners LLC, the Lewin-owned company that bought the AVP out of bankruptcy, made the decision to file suit against USAV, IMG, The Leverage Agency and the City of Manhattan Beach. The lawsuit has now officially been dropped.

The AVP folded on August 13, 2010, just weeks before the famed Manhattan Beach tournament was supposed to be held. It wasn't just any old year either, the tournament was set to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The City of Manhattan Beach along with the CBVA and the Saikley family stepped in and hastily put together a smaller version of the tournament that year to keep the tradition going.

It was much like the first days of the tournament. No grandstands, no hoopla, a tiny purse at stake. Just a bunch of players duking it out in front of a crowd standing around the outside of the court. It was not without controversy, of course. As an homage to the old game, they decided to use old school rules. Kerri Walsh led a protest of current athletes and many pros stayed away.

But the tournament went on and the tradition of the most prestigious beach volleyball tournament, the "Grandaddy of Them All," continued. The next year, with the AVP still mostly out of operation, the City of Manhattan Beach decided to entertain bids for the 2011 Manhattan Beach Open. They chose the bid of USAV, IMG, Jose Cuervo and The Leverage Agency and allowed them to keep the long-standing tradition going.

So in 2011, the Manhattan Beach Open was back. It was run well, though still on a smaller scale than the AVP's heyday. There were grandstands and sponsors and a decent sized purse. Crisis averted. Everyone was happy. Everyone, that is, but Nick Lewin and his group.

Six days before the 2011 tournament even happened, DFA PVA II Partners LLC filed suit against all the parties involved - USAV, IMG, The Leverage Agency and the City of Manhattan Beach. The complaint they filed indicated that they were suing for trademark infringement, false advertising and unlawful business practices among other things.

Basically, the complaint said that the logo and colors they used was too close to the AVP's official logo, that calling the tournament The Manhattan Beach Open and the language that they used around the tournament capitalized on the strength of a tournament that was built by the AVP starting back in 1986. The words "confusingly similar" can be found seven times in the complaint.

Over the course of the next seven months papers were served, amendments were filed, answers to complaints were created, counter suits were issued, extensions were granted, court dates were set and it appeared that this suit might actually see its day in court. When I spoke to USAV CEO Doug Beal shortly after the suit was filed, he wouldn't comment on it directly, but he did not sound concerned about it.

In early April, the AVP property was sold to Donald Sun. When I interviewed Sun a few days after the purchase, I asked him about the lawsuit. He said he had no interest in pursuing it and that he did not want it to proceed. He said that it was not his lawsuit to dismiss and that Lewin's company would have to be the ones to drop it.

Finally, last month, DFA PVA II Partners LLC, filed the paperwork to dismiss the case and the judge granted it. So it's over. Officially. Nick Lewin, the new AVP, USAV and IMG can all go their separate ways and start over with a clean slate. Jose Cuervo can continue to run the Manhattan Beach tournament going forward if they choose to. Donald Sun can continue his quest to revive the AVP brand. And we can all officially say goodbye to Nick Lewin.

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