by Christina Grube & Mark York
(MASS TORT NEWS) A Florida judge officially scheduled closing arguments in Strong Arm Productions v. Celsius Holdings, bringing the breach of contract trial between rapper Flo Rida and energy-drink producer Celsius to a close.
After a week of proceedings in Fort Lauderdale, with Judge David Haimes scheduled closing arguments for Tue., January 17 at 8:30 a.m. ET.
Witnesses include members of Flo Rida’s team, accounting experts, multiple Celsius executives, and the triple-platinum artist himself (referred to as “Flo” in the courtroom). The litigation comes less than a month after Celsius agreed to a $7.8 million class action settlement for falsely marketing products as preservative free.
Flo Rida, legally known as Tramar Dillard, filed suit against Celsius holdings in 2021 alleging the “healthy energy drink” company broke a 2014 sponsorship contract by withholding stock options and royalty bonuses.
Flo Rida and his company, Strong Arm Productions, entered into an endorsement deal with Celsius Holdings, Inc. which ran from 2014 – 2018. During that time, Flo Rida played an instrumental role in launching a new era for the Celsius brand development, growth and expansion – introducing Celsius to millions around the world. The partnership paved the way for Celsius to grow its product portfolio, adding a powder product and new product line called Celsius Heat in conjunction with Flo Rida’s partnership. The company has consistently sold and collected revenues for its powder form products since then.
Dillard feels he upheld his end of the deal by regularly featuring Celsius products in his music videos and social media posts, and now seeks accountability from the multi-million dollar company. Fellow rapper Doja Cat confirmed Flo Rida’s brand association with Celsius during a 2019 interview with DJ Big Boy. Doja explained that she posted a viral impression of rapper Cardi B while “hyper” on Celsius.
“I’m advertising Flo Rida’s energy drink right now,” joked Doja. “I had this thing called Celsius, it’s like 250 milligrams of caffeine, so I drank it and man, I’ve never been that hyper in my entire life.”
John Uusatal of Kelly Uustal law represents the rapper and asserts that the suit has become “a moral issue for him [Dillard].” Uustal told Insider, “He’s still in his mind a good partner, and he’s sad that they’re not.”
According to the complaint, provided here:
- While certain guaranteed payments were payable at contract inception, others became due from Celsius later at various specified intervals or upon reaching certain benchmarks and continuing thereafter
- Celsius was solely responsible for making additional payments and delivering shares of stock based upon future product sales and revenues. Yet, once the benchmarks were reached and product revenues triggered additional royalties, Celsius failed to deliver the required compensation to which Flo Rida, Strong Arm and D3M were entitled.
- Celsius allegedly failed to do so and concealed material facts from Plaintiffs that deprived them from discovering the contractual breaches
Uustal highlighted complexities of the suit, explaining how the rapper’s contract entitled him to receive extra shares and contract bonuses when a certain number of Celsius “units” sold.
“He’s entitled to 500,000 shares of stock via the contract, and entitled to 250,000 shares of stock if certain things happen,” Uustal explained. “One of those yardsticks is that a certain number of units of products need to be sold, but unfortunately the contract doesn’t specify which type of unit — is it a box, is it a drink? And there’s no timeframe or deadline.”
Celsius told Mass Tort News they enjoyed working with Flo, but are “disappointed” that he filed suit.
“Celsius enjoyed working with Flo Rida years ago and wishes him all the best, but is disappointed he is participating in this litigation,” said the drink company. “We take our relationships and obligations incredibly seriously and look forward to vigorously presenting our defense in court.
Click to watch a selection of Friday’s proceedings.
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