A Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected Under Armour’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit brought by UCLA seeking more than $200 million in damages over its terminated sponsorship deal.
Judge H. Jay Ford III said in a tentative ruling that Under Armour couldn’t show that it was excused from its contractual obligations because the pandemic was a “force majeure event” that frees parties of obligations under a contract in light of extraordinary events. UCLA had argued that the pandemic hadn’t stopped either party from carrying out sponsorship obligations.
The judge gave Under Armour 20 business days to respond to his decision, setting the next court date for September 23.
UCLA sued Under Armour in August 2020, alleging breach of contract after the apparel company reneged on its 15-year, $280 million sponsorship deal with the school that was the most lucrative in the history of college sports.
“Despite Under Armour’s expensive legal maneuvers, UCLA and fair play won today,” said Mary Osako, UCLA’s vice chancellor for strategic communications, in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “The story of Under Armour’s corporate shenanigans and broken promises that left our student-athletes and the Bruin community out to dry is one that deserves to be told. We’re gratified that the court cleared the way for the case to proceed.”
Under Armour’s case for terminating the contract is based on its belief that UCLA breached its contract with UA when its baseball team played fewer than 50 percent of its 2020 season due to the pandemic, citing the force majeure clause. Ford, however, said Under Armour terminating the contract was not clearly permitted under that force majeure clause.
“The judicially noticeable documents also do not clearly and affirmatively establish that the pandemic rendered it impossible or impracticable for Under Armour or UCLA to perform,” Ford wrote in his ruling. “At best, they establish the existence of a pandemic and the public response thereto. They do not establish the impact of the pandemic on Under Armour’s or UCLA’s ability to perform under the Agreement.”
Under Armour declined to comment on the ruling.
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