(USA Herald) – The verdict is in, and it’s a big win for rapper Flo Rida. After a lengthy legal battle, a Florida state jury recently ruled that Celsius Holdings Inc. owes the musician a staggering $83 million for breaching two contracts.
The lawsuit, which was filed in May 2021, accused the Boca Raton-based beverage company of failing to provide Flo Rida, whose real name is Tramar Dillard, with royalties and company stock as promised in exchange for promoting its products. According to court documents, the rapper’s initial deal with Celsius in 2014 included $300,000 in cash and 250,000 stock shares. However, he was promised an additional 250,000 shares if the company sold $1 million of “co-branded” products within 12 months.
The contract also stated that Dillard would receive an additional 500,000 shares if Celsius sold a total of 690,000 units of the products. The second contract, which was signed in 2016, gave him a $500,000 advance in royalties and another 250,000 shares of stock, with more royalties promised if sales exceeded a certain threshold. The rapper argued that the second contract was an extension of the first, while Celsius claimed it was a completely new agreement.
The trial hinged on the interpretation of the contract provisions, with John Uustal of Kelley Uustal PLC, representing Dillard, arguing that the sales of single-serve packets of powdered drink mix, or sticks, should be included in the unit sales that would trigger the promised shares. Uustal pointed out that one of the contract provisions was met when nearly two million sticks were sold, according to company documents.
Uustal also contended that Celsius had to abide by the plain meaning of the contract terms and couldn’t invent a new definition for the word “unit.” Celsius argued that the individual units referred to the boxes containing the single-serve packets that were sold to retailers, not the sticks sold to consumers.
Jose Angel Casal of Holland & Knight LLP, representing Celsius, claimed that Dillard only filed the lawsuit after the company’s stock began soaring in 2018 and his money flow was disrupted due to pandemic restrictions on live shows. Casal also argued that Celsius’ success was due to signing distribution deals, such as with Anheuser-Busch, and not because of Dillard’s promotion.
Despite Celsius’ arguments, the six-person jury found in favor of Flo Rida, awarding him $83 million for the 750,000 bonus shares awarded by the 2014 contract provisions, which are worth more than $110 per share. The damages for the 2016 contract amounted to nearly $5,500.
Flo Rida and his companies were represented by John J. Uustal, Cristina M. Pierson, and Michael A. Hersh of Kelley Uustal PLC, while Celsius was represented by Jose Angel Casal, Rebecca M. Plasencia, Daniel P. Hanlon, and Suzanne Busser of Holland & Knight LLP.
The ruling is a major victory for Flo Rida and his legal team, who fought tirelessly to ensure that the musician was fairly compensated for the breach of contract. The case has drawn attention to the importance of carefully reviewing and interpreting contract provisions to avoid future disputes.
For Flo Rida’s supporters, the verdict is a long-overdue triumph for an artist who has worked tirelessly to promote brands and products throughout his career. For those who oppose the defendant’s bad faith conduct, the ruling is a clear message that companies must uphold their contractual obligations or face the consequences.
In the end, the case serves as a reminder that even the most successful celebrities can fall victim to breaches of contract, and that the legal system should be there to help ensure that justice is served. It’s a victory that Flo Rida and his supporters won’t soon forget, and a warning to companies to uphold their agreements or risk the financial consequences.
In conclusion, the verdict in the Flo Rida vs. Celsius lawsuit is a significant win for the artist, who fought hard to ensure that he was rightfully compensated for his promotional efforts. The ruling sends a clear message that companies must honor their contractual obligations, and that the legal system can help ensure justice is served in such cases. For fans of the rapper, the decision is a welcome one, and it is likely to have a significant impact on how companies approach agreements with celebrities in the future.
The case is Strong Arm Productions USA Inc. et al. v. Celsius Holdings Inc., in the 17th Judicial Circuit Court of the State of Florida.
By Samuel Lopez, Legal News Contributor for USA Herald