The studio model of the Sovereign-class Enterprise-E from Star Trek: First Contact is at the center of a lawsuit over its sale, from which OWC Studios head Alec Peters claims he is owed $200,000. Image/Paramount Pictures

UPDATED FEBRUARY 19, 2019|9 MIN READ

Trial in Peters' Prop Sale, Defamation Lawsuit Due in 2020

A January 2020 trial awaits Axanar producer Alec Peters in a Nevada courtroom, where he’s being sued for defamation by Tiana Armstrong of Hero Prop LLP, a Las Vegas company, over a disputed sale of the Enterprise-E model from Star Trek: First Contact.

Meanwhile, Peters himself filed an amended countersuit November 7, 2018, seeking $165,000 in damages, plus attorneys’ fees and other damages, claiming he is owed for his role in the six-figure sale brokered by the company of the model of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E from Star Trek: First Contact.

Armstrong’s suit seeks at least $15,000 in damages after Peters allegedly defamed her in a series of posts in a large Facebook props enthusiasts’ group.

She also wants a judge to declare Peters is not entitled to a share of the sale’s proceeds. Her company, Hero Prop, buys and sells rare and collectible movie props, costumes, and television/film memorabilia.

Her lawsuit was first filed in Clark County District Court in Nevada on September 21, 2018, naming Peters as a defendant, along with his company, Propworx.

HERO PROP owner Tiana Armstrong is suing Alec Peters.

« Peters was in no position to arrange a sale. Had Peters truthfully represented he had a poor relationship with the Owner, Plaintiffs would have never sought Peters’ assistance in acquiring the Enterprise-E. » Complaint, Hero Prop v. Alec Peters/Propworx

LEGAL COMPLAINT Read the eight-page lawsuit filed against Alec Peters by Hero Prop LLP, and its co-owner, Tiana Armstrong, in a Nevada district court. Download 49K PDF

COUNTERCLAIM Read Alec Peters’ response to the legal complaint with his counterclaim against Armstrong. Download 58K PDF

The eight-page legal complaint details attempts by Hero Prop to broker the sale of the 10.5-foot long Enterprise-E model constructed for the TNG film, Star Trek: First Contact. The legal complaint was amended October 9 to address public defamatory statements Peters allegedly made about Armstrong after Peters was served in the lawsuit.

Selling the Enterprise-E

According to the suit, Hero Prop began working with Peters in October 2017, when Armstrong told Peters she had a buyer interested in purchasing the Enterprise-E model from its owner. The model’s last known owner was listed as New York collector Adam Schneider.1)

Judicial Calendar
The Clark County, Nev., District Court set the following schedule for the case leading up to trial:

  • May 22 Amended pleadings or adding other parties are due.
  • May 22 Expert evidence in the case is due.
  • June 21 Experts’ rebuttals are due.
  • August 20 Discovery deadline for both sides to collect evidence.
  • September 5 A status check is expected in court.
  • September 19 Motions for summary judgment, or other similar motions, are due.
  • January 20, 2020 The expected two-day trial is scheduled within a five-week period starting this date before a judge alone, despite Peters initially requesting a jury.

The suit alleges Armstrong asked Peters if he knew the Enterprise model’s owner. Peters reportedly replied, “Yes, very well.” Though the owner is not named in the suit, Peters was briefly associated with Schneider’s restoration effort of the Original Series’ full-scale mockup of the Galileo shuttlecraft, which Schneider donated to the Johnson Space Center in Houston.2)

Armstrong stated she told Peters the buyer was willing to pay $500,000 for the Enterprise model, and that Hero Prop would split profits from the sale, with one-third going to Peters, if he could convince the owner to sell for less than $500,000.3)

Misrepresentation?

The complaint states that Peters represented that he’d communicated with the owner, though Armstrong said she learned later Peters had never contacted the owner, instead asking his former Propworx business partner, Jarrod Hunt, to reach out. Hunt had parted ways with Peters in 2017, starting his own company, Propblock.

In the course of those conversations, the owner allegedly told Hunt that “he did not want to sell the Enterprise-E, [and] asked if Peters was involved. Owner told Hunt that Owner would not do any transaction involving Peters.”4)

Armstrong stated she was unaware of the bad relationship between Peters and the owner:

SOVEREIGN CLASS The physical model of the Enterprise-E at the center of a lawsuit against OWC Studios head Alec Peters, pictured with its last known owner. Image/Memory Alpha
At no point prior to October 29, 2017 did Peters inform Armstrong that Peters had a very poor relationship with Owner and was in no position to arrange a sale with the Owner. Had Peters truthfully represented he had a poor relationship with the Owner, Plaintiffs would have never sought Peters’ assistance in acquiring the Enterprise-E.5)

'An Asshole'

By November 15, 2017, after telling Armstrong the owner was “being an asshole,” Peters’ efforts had come to nothing.6)

“Hunt believed the effort to acquire the Enterprise-E from Owner was dead.”7)

The Sale

After learning from Armstrong a couple weeks later that the buyer was willing to pay more for the model, Hunt, of his own accord, contacted the Enterprise’s owner; Hunt had not been a Propworx employee for months. After a few weeks of negotiations, the owner agreed to sell the Enterprise, along with a studio model of the Deep Space 9 space station.

Axanar producer Alec Peters

'The Seller's Agent'

According to the suit, Peters learned of the sale in June 2018 and claimed Armstrong owed him his commission:

When [Peters] reported in November 2017 that the Owner did not want to sell his collection, that was in fact “merely the first step in the negotiation.” Peters claimed he had done his job and was entitled to be compensated on the completed deal. Peters also argued he was “the seller’s agent” despite the fact Peters had no contractual agreement with the Owner, no communications with the Owner, and Peters claimed that Owner was not even supposed to know about Peters’ involvement in the proposed transaction.8)

The suit claims Peters threatened Armstrong in a June 20 email, saying, “you don’t want to be dragged through the mud and have your business ruined.”

DEEP SPACE 9 The physical model of the space station was sold alongside the Enterprise-E in a sale disputed by OWC Studios head Alec Peters. Image/Memory Alpha

By September 12, Peters had a lawyer send a letter demanding payment, stating that “Peters/Propworx entered into an oral agreement whereby Peters/Propworx agreed to represent the seller of an items or items that … buyer… wanted to purchase because Peters/Propworx knew the location of said miniatures and have previously done business with the seller.”9)

The owner characterized his relationship with Peters somewhat differently, telling AxaMonitor in a one-sentence statement, “I have not communicated, or been called/emailed, from Alec in the last five years.”10)

Peters' Damages

Peters’ counterclaim alleged Armstrong and Hero Prop committed breach of contract, unjust enrichment and fraudulent misrepresentation, for which Peters planned to seek at least $165,000 in damages, plus court costs, attorney’s fees and punitive damages.11)

Stolen Objects

In his counterclaim, Peters stated his discovery Armstrong had trafficked in stolen objects led her to retaliate:

Upon information and belief, Mr. Peters discovered that Ms. Armstrong had sold multiple stolen objects and obtained commissions therefrom, including but not limited to objects from Marvel Studios and Warner Brothers. Once Ms. Armstrong became aware of Mr. Peters’ knowledge of her previous sales, she attempted to exclude him from all pending transactions.12)

Propworx Bankruptcy

This is not the first time Peters’ dealings through Propworx have resulted in litigation. An earlier incarnation of Propworx declared bankruptcy, leaving its largest client, MGM, holding the bag for about $300,000 that Peters’ company owed for selling props owned by the studio.

Defamation Claims

Meanwhile, after being served with Hero Prop’s legal complaint, Peters publicly lashed out in early October against Armstrong, allegedly posting in the 3,809-member Original Movie Props & Wardrobe Group on Facebook, many of whom the suit claims are Hero Prop clients.

Alec Peters
Tiana Armstrong screwed me to the tune of $86,000 in a deal with a VERY wealthy new collector. She went behind my back to cut me out of a deal. I have now hired a lawyer to get it. I know for a fact she did the same thing to another VERY big collector. Anyone who wants details need only message me.
13)

In a second post, Peters asked fellow group members for help in litigation against Armstrong:

Alec Peters
If you have been screwed in a deal by Tiana Armstrong, please contact me. I know there are a lot of Tiana horror stories, and we need to know them for current litigation.
14)

'False and Damaging'

The suit called Peters’ posts negligent, “false and damaging statements” harming the plaintiffs’’ reputation in the movie memorabilia community, citing Peters’ threat, “you don’t want to be dragged through the mud and have your business ruined,” as malicious intent to injure Armstrong’s reputation.15)

DISMISSED Alec Peters’ libel suit against Jason DeBord went nowhere, stricken down by a California Superior Court judge in 2011. Image/Original Prop Blog

Previous Defamation Suit

It’s also not the first time Peters has been involved in a defamation lawsuit. In 2010, Peters sued blogger Jason DeBord for libel, claiming DeBord’s Original Prop Blog made a variety of false and defamatory claims.

Peters lost that suit, which was dismissed by a judge who ordered him to pay $26,000 in DeBord’s attorneys’ fees and court costs. At last report, those damages remain unpaid, as has Peters’ own lawyer in that case.

Declaratory Judgment, Damages

In its lawsuit against Peters, Hero Prop asked a judge to declare:

  • Peters owes in excess of $15,000 in damages from his libelous Facebook posts.
  • Peters was entitled to a portion of profits from the sale of the Enterprise-E only if he could persuade the owner to sell; he failed at that, so he was not due any commission.
  • Hero Prop was not legally bound to arrange sale of the model only through Peters.
  • The plaintiffs are not liable for damages from claims alleged by Peters.
  • Plaintiffs are due attorneys’ fees and court costs as the result of having to file suit against Peters.16)

In his counterclaim, Peters detailed what he wants from the lawsuit:

  • Actual and compensatory damages in excess of $165,000, plus pre- and post- judgment interest.
  • Attorney’s fees and costs of the suit.
  • Exemplary and punitive damages in excess of $15,000.17)

Attorneys

Armstrong and Hero Prop are represented by attorney Michael D. Rawlins of the Smith & Shapiro law firm. Peters is represented by Kory L. Kaplan, of the Larson Zirzow & Kaplan law firm.

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Keywords

2)
"FanAddicts!," Memory Alpha, retrieved 10/11/18.
3)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 2 ¶8, 10/9/18.
4)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 3 ¶16, 10/9/18.
5)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 2 ¶9, 10/9/18.
6)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 3 ¶11-14, 10/9/18.
7)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 3 ¶17, 10/9/18.
8)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 4 ¶20, 10/9/18.
9)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 4 ¶22, 10/9/18.
10)
Email from Adam Schneider to Carlos Pedraza, 10/11/18.
11)
Defendants’ Answer to Amended Complaint for Declaratory Relief and Damages and Counterclaim, pp. 12-15, 11/7/2018.
12)
Defendants’ Answer to Amended Complaint for Declaratory Relief and Damages and Counterclaim, p. 12 ¶34, 11/7/2018.
13) , 14)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 5 ¶28, 10/9/18.
15)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 6 ¶37-40, 10/9/18.
16)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 7 ¶43, 10/9/18.
17)
Defendants’ Answer to Amended Complaint for Declaratory Relief and Damages and Counterclaim, Prayer for Relief, p. 16, 11/7/2018.