Wizard World, Inc. and its former Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Shamus have resolved all of their outstanding lawsuits amicably, with neither party found doing any wrongdoing, according to a Friday afternoon press release.
“We are pleased to have worked with Stephen to resolve our disagreements, so that each of us can focus our talents on the entertainment world, instead of the courtroom,” said Wizard World CEO John Maatta as per the press release.
“I want to thank the current Wizard World leadership team for working collaboratively on this effort, and wish them all the best,” added Shamus.
Wizard World fired Shamus on October 27, cited his alleged involvement in the theft of company-owned items as one of the reasons. A subsequent lawsuit filed by company alleges that Shamus used his position as an organizer for celebrity guests at Wizard World conventions to illegally obtain and sell autographed merchandise valued in the lawsuit at over $1 million.
According to the suit, Shamus “often negotiated money losing deals for Wizard World in order to gain access to celebrities whom he could exploit for his own enrichment." Shamus then allegedly used that access to "illicitly obtain" autographed memorabilia from these celebrity guests which he would then sell for large sums of money.
Shamus then filed a counter claim, seeking $400,000 in unpaid salary and bonuses, $125,000 severance pay, stock options on 500,000 shares in the company, as well as an unspecified amount of commissions and interest.
A second lawsuit by Wizard World in December alleged that Stephen, along with others including Gareb Shamus, Eric Weisblum, and Vincent Labarbara, failed to dislose their stock holdings through shell companies as part of an attempted hostile takeover.
"Having been rebuffed by Wizard World management, defendants Weisblum and Labarbara decided to join forces with the Shamus Brothers to pursue a change in the Board and to install Stephen Shamus as the new CEO," alleged Wizard World in court filings. "As Stephen Shamus’s own statements confirm, these two defendants, along with defendant Robb Knie, planned to team up with the Shamus Brothers to take control of Wizard World. The Company regularly held its annual meetings in the fourth quarter of the year. A board member of Wizard World who was employed by Weisblum began to push for a shareholder meeting. Defendants thus anticipated that a shareholder meeting would occur shortly and agreed to work together to determine its outcome. Their plan has not borne fruit only because Wizard World has yet to schedule its 2016 annual meeting."
It its most-recent quarterly SEC filings, Wizard World said that Shamus' counterclaim, if successful, would subject them to "a judgment which could materially impact our financial condition."
Shamus was one of Wizard's earliest employees, having worked for the magazine and convention organizers since January 1991. His brother, Gareb Shamus, the founder of Wizard World, has not been associated with the company since 2011.