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/CBS, Paramount Pictures

Company Sues Peters for Defamation in Disputed Prop Sale

OWC Studios head Alec Peters is being sued for defamation by a Las Vegas prop company after he threatened legal action over the six-figure sale brokered by the company of the model of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E from Star Trek: First Contact.

The suit seeks at least $15,000 in damages after Peters allegedly defamed the company, Hero Prop LLP, and one of its owners, in a series of posts in a large Facebook props enthusiasts’ group.

The lawsuit was first filed in Clark County District Court in Nevada on September 21, 2018, by Hero Prop LLP co-owner Tiana Armstrong, naming Peters as a defendant, along with his company, Propworx. Hero Prop both buys and sells rare and collectible movie props, costumes, and television/film memorabilia.

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

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.

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

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)

The suit alleges Armstrong asked Peters if he knew the 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)

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

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:

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)
OWC Studios head and Axanar producer Alec Peters

'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.

'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)

$200,000 in Damages

According to the lawsuit, the letter from Peters’ lawyer accused Armstrong and Hero Prop of “fraud, intentional misrepresentation, intentional interference with … contractual rights, dealing in bad faith, and conspiracy” and that Peters planned to seek at least $200,000 in damages, plus court costs, attorney’s fees and punitive damages.11)

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.
12)

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.
13)

'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.14)

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.15)

Armstrong and Hero Prop are represented by attorney Michael D. Rawlins of the Smith & Shapiro law firm. Peters’ attorney has not yet been entered into court records.

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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)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 5 ¶26, 10/9/18.
12) , 13)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 5 ¶28, 10/9/18.
14)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 6 ¶37-40, 10/9/18.
15)
Hero Prop LLP v. Alec Peters/Propworx, Amended Complaint, Clark County District Court, Las Vegas, p. 7 ¶43, 10/9/18.