This week a Broward County jury awarded Flo Rida $82.6 million in damages in his lawsuit against Celsius, an energy drink manufacturer.
In 2014, Flo Rida, whose real name is Tramar Dillard, signed an endorsement deal with Celsius and served as a brand ambassador from 2014 to 2018. Although Celsius was a relatively small company at the time, it grew substantially in the following years and made an initial public offering in September 2019, meaning that it is now a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ exchange.
Flo Rida filed his lawsuit in 2021, claiming that Celsius owed him millions in additional stock options and other bonuses under the terms of his agreement. Flo Rida and Celsius disagree, of course, as to the influence that Flo Rida’s endorsement had on the company’s eventual success.
The bonuses in Flo Rida’s contract were conditioned on Celsius achieving certain sales goals, which the company had met, but did not pay out the bonuses – which included 250,000 shares of Celsius and 1% ownership stake in the company. Flo Rida argued that he had been unaware that he was even eligible for the bonuses because the contract was vague as to how they worked, he did not have access to Celsius’s financial information, nor did they notify him when the goals were met.
Celsius argued that Flo Rida had waited too long – more than five years – to file his lawsuit and that the statute of limitations had expired, meaning that his claims were barred. However, the jury ultimately rejected this defense, finding that the time limit had not expired because Celsius had been fraudulently concealing the relevant information from Flo Rida concerning his additional compensation The jury also found that Celsius had breached the 2014 agreement by not paying out the bonuses.
Celsius can appeal the verdict. Flo Rida has stated that he would like to move past the dispute and would work with Celsius again in the future. He says he would take the 1% ownership he was promised in place of the $82.6 million award.
“I’m still a owner in the company,” he told the Associated Press. “And when you basically planted the seed for something that is successful, you can’t help but have unconditional love.”