US court action against Williams for allegedly failing to meet ROKiT sponsorship requirements has been dismissed due to the lead prosecutor’s ineligibility to practice law in the jurisdiction where the case was brought.
Williams cut ties with ROKiT, a telecommunications provider, as COVID triggered a postponement of the 2020 season. ROKiT had been the Williams team’s title sponsor for the 2019 season.
ROKiT owner Jonathan Kendrick filed a $149 million lawsuit in Florida earlier this year, alleging Williams made false statements about the team’s competitive edge in 2019.
Through attorney Larry Klayman, Kendrick argued that Williams had not gotten the rights that they were entitled to as a result of the postponement of the 2022 races, and that when a shorter Formula 1 calendar came out, the company was willing to cover a portion of the fee agreement.
Although the team was in takeover negotiations with Dorilton, Williams claimed the previous year’s late payment of the outstanding settlements as the reason they pulled out of the three-year deal just a third of the way through.
Williams was accused of making false claims about their capacity to perform in 2019 in Kendrick’s court dispute, which claimed the company had endured “significant financial loss and damage to their goodwill and business reputation” totaling more than $149,528,550.
The Florida court dismissed the lawsuit just five months after it was filed after Klayman was found to be incapable of practicing law in the Southern Florida District Court,
The District of Columbia Bar suspended Klayman for 18 months because of the manner in which he handled a sexual harassment case that was initially filed more than a decade ago. Klayman is currently serving the suspension.
Kennedy acknowledged that the decision was unexpected but added that they had previously decided to relocate their case to California for “strategic reasons.”
“Our attorney was not registered to perform in that particular state, he was but then the judge ruled he wasn’t,” Kennedy said. “But even before that, we were moving it to California for strategic reasons.
“It did get dismissed but on technical grounds, not on the merits of the case.”
Kennedy further speculated that the dismissal had a political basis because Klayman had previously tried to sue both the incumbent Joe Biden and the former US presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama without success.
“The problem with American judges is that they are all appointed, believe it or not, by political parties,” Kennedy added.
“You can get a Republican judge or a Democratic judge and the judge was appointed by Obama.
“My attorney Larry had sued Obama and the Clintons who are Democrats.
“We just got caught but anyway, We were moving it to California because what’s happened is since we decided to issue we’ve been approached by various ex-Williams employees.
“They call them whistle-blowers, who are not happy with what Williams did and we’ve now accumulated a lot more evidence of what we are alleging and therefore we were going to move it anyway to a California Court.”
A Williams spokesperson said: “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.
“Having successfully obtained an arbitration award against ROKiT in the UK and successfully secured confirmation of the arbitral award by a federal court in the United States.
“Williams continues to place its trust in the legal system with regard to its dispute with ROKiT and looks forward to receipt of the amount awarded to it under the original arbitral award.”
Kennedy stated that the case would be filed again over the course of the next two weeks but projected that it would be “two or three years” before the legal process reaches this point once more.
“I knew we’d been misled,” he admitted. “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.
“I’m looking forward to it because we will be subpoenaing the board of Williams and various ex-staff, technical staff and we’ll get to the bottom of what really happened with that car.
“I don’t particularly want to go into litigation but I don’t think I’ve got any choice.
“I’d rather just have a meeting with them and mediate, frankly, but I don’t think they’re willing to do that.”