On Monday, DraftKings filed a lawsuit alleging that a former employee, Michael Hermalyn, had hatched “a secret plan” going back more than a year with Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin to steal customer information before he took a job as a Fanatics betting executive one week ago.
On Wednesday, Hermalyn fired back with a declaration filed in federal court, calling the allegations “completely false and fabricated.”
“When I decided to leave, I knew from past experience with DraftKings that they would likely come after me aggressively and malign me as they have done with others,” Hermalyn wrote in the 16-page filing in U.S. District Court for Massachusetts. “However, I am shocked and disappointed to see that they would go so far as they have and actually make so many completely false and fabricated accusations against me in court.” (DraftKings declined to comment on Hermalyn’s filing when reached by Front Office Sports.)
Hermalyn denied the original lawsuit’s claim that he flew to Fanatics’ Los Angeles offices on Jan. 29 after emailing colleagues that he was taking two days off following the death of a “close friend.” Hermalyn named the friend he lost to cancer on Jan. 27 in the filing.
“DraftKings’ accusation that I falsely claimed to be mourning the death of my friend … is both wrong and disappointing,” Hermalyn said. “[That] week … was particularly difficult for me emotionally. In addition to grieving the death of my friend, I was contemplating an opportunity to make a significant advancement in my career by joining Fanatics VIP.”
Hermalyn said he didn’t have an offer from Fanatics until Jan. 27, and he met with Rubin in Pennsylvania—not California—as DraftKings alleged. Hermalyn finalized his move to Fanatics on Feb. 1, according to the declaration.
“I did not discuss joining Fanatics or any of its affiliates with Mr. Rubin or anyone else during 2023,” Hermalyn said, countering DraftKings’ claim. “Nor have I ever encouraged any of my DraftKings colleagues to do so, or put any of my colleagues in touch with Fanatics’ CEO or any other Fanatics executives.”