Former Utah Starzz basketball player Natalie Williams has filed a lawsuit against a Salt Lake County man and his business in connection with the failure of Natalie's, a downtown restaurant and nightclub.

The suit, filed Monday in 3rd District Court, accuses James Cunningham and Family Financial Solutions — a company the suit calls Cunningham's "alter ego" — of failing to repay Williams after the club, at 380 W. 200 South, went out of business. It also says Cunningham has not met terms of an agreement that had Williams serving as Family Financial Solutions' national spokeswoman.

According to the suit, Williams, who now plays for the Indiana Fever, gave her name and a $75,000 loan to Family Financial for the establishment of the restaurant.

That agreement, the suit says, promised Williams 15-percent ownership in Natalie's and a repayment of the loan at a yearly interest rate of 12 percent. The suit accuses Cunningham of failing to repay any of the loan or interest.

Williams also entered an agreement to be the financial company's national spokeswoman, taking part in media and marketing campaigns, the suit says. In return, Williams was to receive 10 percent ownership in Family Financial's stock and 0.5 percent of its monthly commissions and profits. The suit claims Williams has only seen one payment of $400 for her spokeswoman duties.

The lawsuit accuses the company and Cunningham of breaching both agreements. It also accuses Cunningham of fraud for saying the companies were limited-liability companies, that he had the financial resources to manage Natalie's and that he intended to capitalize Natalie's in the amount of $150,000 to $200,000.

The suit seeks unspecified damages and court and attorney costs.

Calls to Family Financial for comment were not answered Monday. Cunningham's office mailbox was full and would not accept voice messages.

Natalie's opened two weeks before the 2002 Olympics. It closed this year on June 30.


E-MAIL: dsmeath@desnews.com