A Florida jury on Wednesday (Jan. 18) awarded Flo Rida $82 million in damages from energy drink maker Celsius in a lawsuit that claimed the company violated an endorsement deal with the rapper.
After a day of deliberations, a Broward County jury awarded the sum after finding that Celsius breached two contracts it had struck with the rapper in the mid-2010s, his lawyers confirmed to Billboard. Flo Rida’s lawsuit, filed in 2021, claimed he was owed millions in additional stock and ongoing royalties under the terms of the deals.
In an interview with Billboard, Flo Rida’s attorneys said their client was pleased with the outcome and believed that “the justice system performed well today.”
“It was a matter of respect,” said John J. Uustal of the firm Kelley Uustal PLC, who repped the rapper along with partner Cristina M. Pierson. “He was due these shares, he worked for them, and he wasn’t going to just let it go.”
An attorney for Celsius did not immediately return a request for comment on the verdict. Celsius will be able to appeal the verdict, first by asking the judge to overturn it and later by appealing the case to a state appeals court.
During a five-day trial, attorneys for the rapper (real name Tramar Dillard) argued that Celsius had met key sales thresholds that entitled Flo Rida to additional stock amounting to a one-percent stake in the business — a cut his lawyers claimed was worth at least $75 million now that Celsius had grown successful. They said his promotion had helped boost “a tiny local company that was about to go out of business.”
Celsius’ lawyers argued back that the company had broken no promises, saying the sales thresholds hadn’t been triggered and that the rapper had already been paid “far in excess” of what he was owed. They told the jury that Flo Rida was simply chasing a large cash payout to which he wasn’t entitled: “A business deal is a business deal. You don’t get a do-over just because you’re unhappy with the results.”
On Thursday, the lawyers for Flo Rida told Billboard that they believed arguments painting their client as “greedy” had backfired with jurors: “They understood all these complicated legal issues and in our view came to the right conclusion,” Uustal said. “After our client finished testifying, the was no doubt that this was not a greedy individual.”