by Christina Grube & Mark York
(MASS TORT NEWS) Today, a Florida jury ruled that the energy drink company, Celsius, breached the terms of two separate endorsement deals with rapper Flo Rida, yielding an $82 million settlement. The 6 person jury–one man, five women–deliberated for one day before returning their verdict early this afternoon.
Many expect an appeal from Celsius, with presiding Judge David Haimes even saying “I know there’s already indication when we came to sidebar that there may be post trial motions, maybe there’ll be an appeal…I would urge you to keep talking and see if you can’t work something out, rather than drag it on any further.” The final settlement currently stands at $82,640,450 in damages.
The trial revolved around an endorsement deal with Celsius in 2014, which renewed two years later. Both contracts contained stock options and bonuses for Flo Rida should a certain number of co-branded products sell during his time as a brand ambassador.
Flo Rida–legally known as Tamar Dillard–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.”
In 2021, the rapper sued the brand, alleging that sale goals were met and Celsius withheld the promised stocks and bonuses. Flo Rida’s legal team argued the contract’s vague writing prevented him from cashing in. The Celsius contract measured sales by “units” sold, yet failed to explain what constituted as a unit.
“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,” attorney John Uustal said.
Uustal later told MTN that Flo Rida’s motivation for suing extended beyond the money. “He cares so much about his community. He knows that kids look to him as a role model, and to him this was about respect. You have to stand up for yourself. And he did,” said Uustal. “It was an honor to represent Flo Rida.”
“Celsius is disappointed with the result and disagree with the jury’s verdict, we intend to appeal based on several grounds,” said Celsius rep Cameron Donahue. “This decision doesn’t take away from all Celsius has accomplished over the last several years and we look forward to achieving continued success and delivering quality products to our customers.” Today’s verdict comes less than a month after Celsius agreed to a $7.8 million class action settlement for falsely marketing products as preservative free.