Titan of the American cheerleading industry Varsity Spirit (Varsity) faces one fewer antitrust lawsuit after chief U.S. district judge Sheryl Lipman dismissed a suit filed by Oklahoma-based cheerleading goods wholesaler American Spirit and Cheer Essentials. Lipman’s dismissal of the lawsuit didn’t address the merits of the case, but rather cited the plaintiff’s “reckless disregard” for the rules of the discovery process.
Daniel Libit of Sportico reported that Lipman expressed frustration over the plaintiff’s failure to produce 200,000 documents until months after the court’s deadline had passed – referring in her order to the “tortured history of discovery” in the case.
Varsity’s legal woes are far from over, though. There are still two pending antitrust matters, also before judge Lipman, that have yet to be resolved. Arguably more threatening to Varsity are the numerous lawsuits alleging institutional failure to prevent the sexual abuse of minor athletes. As FITSNews has extensively reported in our Cheer Incorporated (Apple, Spotify) podcast, the company faces a dozen lawsuits alleging it failed to appropriately address sexual abuse in seven separate states.
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Libit reported that plaintiff’s attorney Robert Falanga intends to appeal Lipman’s ruling. Falanga issued a statement to that effect saying “my sword is chipped, and my shield is bent … but we live to fight them another day.”
Another antitrust suit filed by Fusion Elite All Stars reached a tentative settlement agreement, leaving only a suit filed by a group of aggrieved parents yet to be litigated.
Litigation against Varsity is notoriously difficult. National Cheer Safety Foundation founder Kimberly Archie told me that Varsity is a “formidable opponents with skilled attorneys” and that any case against the corporate behemoth is an “uphill battle.”
Varsity spokeswoman Susan Crumpton told Libit “Varsity Brands is pleased with the court’s decision and the obvious care that the court took in examining plaintiffs’ highly problematic discovery conduct.”
Count on this news outlet to provide continued coverage of the pending antitrust and sexual misconduct litigation …
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Dylan Nolan is the director of special projects at FITSNews. He graduated from the Darla Moore school of business in 2021 with an accounting degree. Dylan primarily covers education when he isn’t producing video content. Got a tip or story idea for Dylan? Email him here. You can also engage him socially @DNolan2000.
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