A US court case against Williams, which alleged the team failed to meet sponsorship requirements from ROKiT, has been dismissed after it was revealed that the lead prosecutor was not eligible to practice law in the area where the case was filed.
ROKiT, a telecommunications company, served as the title sponsor for the Williams Formula 1 team during the 2019 season.
However, due to a COVID-19 enforced delay to the 2020 campaign, Williams terminated their sponsorship deal with ROKiT.
Earlier this year, ROKiT’s owner, Jonathan Kendrick, accused Williams of making false claims about the team’s competitiveness in 2019 and filed a legal case in Florida seeking $149 million in damages.
Kendrick’s lawyer, Larry Klayman, argued that Williams had not received the rights they were entitled to following the postponement of races in 2022.
In response, Williams cited late payment of fees from the previous year and, amid takeover talks with Dorilton, decided to cancel the sponsorship deal that had originally been intended to span three years.
Kendrick’s lawsuit claimed that Williams had made “fraudulent” statements about their performance in 2019, resulting in “significant financial loss and damage to their goodwill and business reputation” amounting to over $149 million.
However, just five months after the lawsuit was filed, it was dismissed from the Florida court.
The dismissal came after Klayman was found to be ineligible to practice law in the Southern Florida District Court, due to an 18-month suspension he received from the District of Columbia Bar related to a sexual harassment lawsuit from over a decade ago.
Speaking to PlanetF1.com, Kendrick expressed surprise at the dismissal but revealed that they had already planned to move the case to California for “strategic reasons.”
Kendrick explained, “Our attorney was not registered to perform in that particular state, he was but then the judge ruled he wasn’t.”
Kendrick also hinted at a political motivation behind the dismissal, mentioning Klayman’s past attempts to sue former US presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as the current president, Joe Biden.
Despite the dismissal, Kendrick confirmed that the case would be refiled within the next two weeks.
However, he anticipated that it would be “two or three years” before the legal process reaches a similar stage again.
Kendrick expressed his determination to uncover the truth, stating, “I knew we’d been misled.
“The warranties that were given weren’t right, but since then, we’ve had four or five people come on who are willing to give testimony of what we are alleging, so we’ll get to the bottom of it in court.”
He also expressed a preference for mediation rather than litigation, but he believes that Williams may not be willing to engage in such discussions.
In response to the court’s decision, a Williams spokesperson confirmed, “Williams Racing can confirm that the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida has dismissed all claims filed by ROKiT against Williams and its former directors.”