The long-standing dispute between Biloxi Shuckers (Double-A; Southern League) President Ken Young and co-owner Tim Bennett is public again after Bennett filed a new lawsuit alleging racial discrimination and nonpayment of contracted obligations.
The lawsuit alleges the team and Young have failed to pay Bennett a contractually obligated $100,000 payment, due every January, for the past two years. The reason: racial discrimination. From the Biloxi Sun:
“Defendant (Young), a Caucasian individual, has honored his business obligations and contracts with his Caucasian business partners and vendors but has failed to honor his contractual relationship and obligation to plaintiff (Bennett) because he is an African American,” the lawsuit claims.
Bennett is asking for a jury trial and to be compensated for the money he says he is owed. He’s also asking for punitive damages for “emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life” he said he has suffered from Young’s actions….
Actions committed by Young have damaged Bennett’s business relationships and his ability to operate his business, resulting in a revenue loss, the lawsuit says.
(Remember, filing a lawsuit presents allegations from just one side. When the original Biloxi Sun-Herald article was written Young and his attorneys had not yet seen the lawsuit.)
Bennett has been an energetic promoter of baseball in the South. He has a management deal for Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson, MS, and runs the Hank Aaron Sports Academy out of the former MiLB facility. This year saw the launch of six tournaments across MiLB cities and ballparks (Pensacola, Montgomery, Jacksonville, Birmingham, Biloxi and Jackson/Pearl), with scholarships set up to allow 30 rec and/or minority teams to participate at no cost. Another effort, the Fantastic 44, aims to attract 44 minority high-school baseball players to complete in two showcase games before a Rickwood Field finale, as part of MLB’s Play Ball initiative.
This is not the first time the two have faced off in court. In 2017 Bennett and Biloxi Baseball LLC settled a lawsuit alleging Bennett was shut out of team operations and access to MGM Park, as well as eliminating his share of the concessions revenue from events he booked. Bennett was instrumental in helping bring the Huntsville Stars (Class AA; Southern League) to Biloxi and was brought in as a minority investor, earning the right to book non-Shuckers events into the ballpark. He had some success in attracting outside events, including the Conference USA tournament–and he was successful working with other teams on moves, helping to bring the Mississippi Braves (Class AA; Southern League) to a new Jackson-area ballpark. Bennett alleged that he was shut out of MGM Park and the Shuckers, losing his ballpark office and any role with the team and the facility.