Assigned on Briefs August 1, 2019
from the Chancery Court for Davidson County No. 18-466-II
Anne C. Martin, Chancellor
September 30, 2016, Appellee Tennessee Secretary of State,
Business Services Division assessed $25, 000.00 in civil
penalties against Appellant David M. Sloane for his
violations of the Athlete Agent Reform Act of 2011. Mr.
Sloane requested a hearing to dispute the penalties, and the
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") reduced the
penalties to $5, 000.00 for each violation and $740.00 in
investigatory costs. Mr. Sloane then filed a petition for
judicial review with the trial court; the trial court
affirmed the ALJ's order. Mr. Sloane appeals. We affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Court Affirmed and Remanded
M. Sloane, West Coral Springs, Florida, appellant, pro se.
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter,
Andrée Blumstein, Solicitor General, Janet M.
Kleinfelter, Deputy Attorney General, and Kelley L. Grover,
Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Tennessee
Department of State, Business Services Division.
Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Thomas R. Frierson, II and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.
David M. Sloane ("Appellant"), a Florida resident,
worked as a professional sports agent with a focus on
representing young baseball players. In 2012, Mr. Sloane
became aware of Mr. Jordan Sheffield, a talented young
baseball player in Tullahoma, Tennessee with good Major
League Baseball ("MLB") draft prospects. That fall,
Mr. Sloane initiated correspondence with the Sheffield
family, including Mr. Justus Sheffield, Jordan's younger
brother who was also a talented young baseball
player. In October 2012, Mr. Sloane traveled to
Jupiter, Florida to meet with Jordan and Justus' parents,
Travis and Misty Sheffield. Thereafter, Mr. Sloane kept in
touch with the family by telephone and email. In December
2012, Mr. Sloane sent an email to Jordan and Justus, copying
their parents, in which he stated, in part:
If you are interested in anything about me, please check out
my web site . . . . You can email me questions you may have
as well or if it's ok with your Parents, I'm
available by phone any time. If you get my voice mail, I
promise you will hear back from me within 24 hours as long as
you leave a number for me to call.
Thanks for giving me a chance to communicate with you. I
promise you will never regret giving me this chance to show
you what I bring to the table.
spring of 2013, Mr. Sloane met with Jordan, Justus, and their
parents in the family's home in Tennessee. At that time,
Jordan was a senior in high school and Justus was a junior.
The purpose of Mr. Sloane's visit was to discuss the
prospect of Mr. Sloane representing Jordan and Justus, the
services Mr. Sloane could provide, and the cost of Mr.
Sloane's services. During this meeting, Mr. Sloane showed
the family his standard agency contract, but neither Jordan
nor Justus signed a contract.
the MLB 2013 draft process, Jordan did not sign with a team
and chose instead to attend Vanderbilt University. In August
2013, Justus began his senior year of high school, and Mr.
Sloane remained in contact with him. On August 13, 2013, Mr.
Sloane emailed Justus, copying his parents, and stated, in
My initial objective in this relationship is acquiring you as
a client. To this point, I have tried to provide as much
information as possible about myself, the business of
Professional Baseball, and my view of what role I will play
in your future MLB career.
I promise that we will be seeing each other several times
between now and the MLB Draft in June. I will be in Tullahoma
this Fall and will see you again at the Jupiter Showcase in
Oct. I will return to see you at some point during your HS
season. In between these visits, should you require my
presence, I'm a short plane trip away. I will also be
keeping in constant touch with you and/or your family by
phone, email and texts.
fall of 2013, Mr. Sloane made a call to the Sheffields to
discuss Justus' 2014 draft prospects, the draft process,
Mr. Sloane's representation of Justus, and Mr.
Sloane's professional agency contract. Shortly after this
conversation, the Sheffields decided that Mr. Sloane would
represent Justus. In November 2013, Mr. Sloane and Justus
came to an oral agreement concerning Mr. Sloane's
contract, but Justus never signed a written contract.
However, after November 2013, Justus informed baseball scouts
that Mr. Sloane represented him, and Mr. Sloane began
communicating with scouts and other professionals on
2012, when he initially contacted the Sheffields, Mr. Sloane
was registered as an athlete agent in Florida and Alabama; he
was not yet registered as an athlete agent in Tennessee. In
April 2014, Mr. Sloane submitted his registration application
to the Tennessee Secretary of State, Business Services
Division ("Appellee" or "Business Services
Division") and was approved as an athlete agent in
Tennessee under Tennessee Code Annotated section 49-7-2101,
et seq. (the "Athlete Agent Reform Act of
2011" or "Act"). In June 2014, following his
approval as an athlete agent in Tennessee, Mr. Sloane
represented Justus in the 2014 MLB professional draft. The
Cleveland Indians drafted Justus in the first round and paid
him a $1.6 million dollar signing bonus. Thereafter, Justus
paid Mr. Sloane $48, 000.00. Mr. Sloane contends that Justus
orally agreed to pay him five percent of his signing bonus,
which is $80, 000.00, not the $48, 000.00 amount.
October 2014, Mr. Sloane sued Justus in Arizona state court
alleging that Justus breached his agreement to pay Mr. Sloane
five percent of the signing bonus. During the lawsuit, Justus
discovered that Mr. Sloane was not registered as an athlete
agent in Tennessee when he first initiated contact with him.
Justus' current professional sports agent, Mr. Bo
McKinnis, reported this information to Mr. Kevin Rayburn, who
at the time was the assistant director of the Business
Services Division who oversaw administration of the
September 30, 2016, Appellee issued an Order and Assessment
of Civil Penalties against Mr. Sloane related to his
representation of Justus and his violations of the
Appellee assessed: (1) a $10, 000.00 penalty for Mr. Sloane
initiating contact with Justus prior to Mr. Sloane's
registration as an athlete agent in violation of Tennessee
Code Annotated section 49-7-2114(b)(1); and (2) a $15, 000.00
penalty for Mr. Sloane acting as an athlete agent prior to
Mr. Sloane's registration as an athlete agent in
violation of Tennessee Code Annotated sections 49-7-2104(a)
and 49-7-2114(b)(5). See also Tenn. Code Ann. §
49-7-2135(b)(5). Mr. Sloane requested a hearing to dispute
November 30, 2017, Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ")
Elizabeth Cambron held a contested hearing concerning Mr.
Sloane's alleged violations of the Act. Mr. Sloane
proceeded pro se. Both Mr. Sloane and the Business
Services Division were given the opportunity to present
witnesses and exhibits. Appellee called two witnesses: (1)
Mr. Nathan Burton, the director of the Business Services
Division; and (2) Mr. Travis Sheffield. Mr. Sloane testified
as the only witness for his side. On February 28, 2018, ALJ
Cambron entered an initial order finding, inter
alia, that Mr. Sloane violated the Act when he initiated
contact with Justus and represented a student athlete prior
to registering as an athlete agent with the Business Services
Division. However, ALJ Cambron reduced the two penalties to
$5, 000.00 each and assessed $740.00 in investigatory costs
against Mr. Sloane. Mr. Sloane filed a petition for
reconsideration of the initial order, which the ALJ denied.
April 25, 2018, Mr. Sloane filed a petition for judicial
review in the Chancery Court of Davidson County ("trial
court"). While it is not explicitly stated in his
petition, it appears Mr. Sloane argued that: (1) the Business
Services Division "selectively" and
"unlawfully" enforced the Act against him; (2) the
ALJ violated his Due Process rights when she denied his
motions to compel compliance with several subpoenas; and (3)
the penalties that Appellee/ ALJ assessed against him were
excessive and unreasonable. On November 27, 2018, the trial
court held a final hearing. By order of December 29, 2018,
the trial court affirmed the ALJ's order, concluded that
Mr. Sloane violated two provisions of the Act, and upheld the
ALJ's imposition of $10, 000.00 in fines and $740.00 in
investigatory costs. Mr. Sloane appeals.
Sloane raises four issues on appeal, which we state as
1. Whether the ALJ erred when she denied Mr. Sloane's
motions to compel.
2. Whether Justus Sheffield was a student athlete under the
Athlete Agent Reform Act of 2011 when Mr. Sloane initially
contacted the Sheffield family.
3. Whether Appellee abused its discretion and conducted
selective, unlawful enforcement of the Act by rendering
arbitrary and capricious fines against Mr. Sloane.
4. Whether the civil penalties and investigatory costs
assessed to Mr. Sloane violated the Eight Amendment of the
United States Constitution and Tennessee Constitution Article
I, Section 16.
Standard of Review
the Tennessee Secretary of State assesses a civil penalty
against an athlete agent, "[a]ny hearing on the
imposition of any fine . . . shall be in accordance with the
Uniform Administrative Procedures Act . . . ." Tenn.
Code Ann. § 49-7-2117; Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-7-2138.
The UAPA provides, in pertinent part:
(a)(1) A person who is aggrieved by a final decision in a
contested case is entitled to judicial review under this
chapter, which shall be the only available method of judicial
review. . . .
(b)(1)(A) Proceedings for review are instituted by filing a
petition for review in the chancery court of Davidson County,
unless another court is specified by statute. Such petition
shall be filed within sixty (60) days ...