A US court case against Williams over allegedly failing to fill sponsorship requirements from ROKiT has been thrown out after the lead prosecutor was temporarily suspended from practising law in the District Court in the Southern District of Florida.
ROKiT, a telecommunications company, was the title sponsor of the Williams team for the 2019 season but after a COVID-enforced delay to the 2020 campaign, the Grove outfit terminated their deal with the sponsor.
Earlier this year, ROKiT owner Jonathan Kendrick claimed Williams had lied about the team’s competitiveness in 2019 and filed a $149m legal case in Florida
ROKiT cite politics behind Williams case dismissal
Kendrick, via lawyer Larry Klayman, claimed that Williams had not received the rights they were owed following the postponement of races in 2022 and when a shortened calendar was announced, the company claimed they offered to pay a percentage of the agreed fees.
However, Williams cited late payment of those fees in the previous year and, with the team in takeover talks with Dorilton, they pulled the plug, cancelling what was originally a three-year deal just a third of the way through.
Kendrick’s legal case argued that Williams made “fraudulent” statements in regards to their competitiveness in 2019 and said they had suffered “significant financial loss and damage to their goodwill and business reputation” in excess of $149,528,550.
Just five months after filing that suit, it has been thrown out of the court after Klayman was found to be temporarily suspended from practising law in the Southern Florida District Court. Klayman has moved to have the suspension lifted.
Klayman is currently serving an 18-month suspension given to him by the District of Columbia Bar over his handling of a sexual harassment lawsuit initially filed more than a decade ago.
Speaking to PlanetF1.com, Kendrick admitted the dismissal “came out of the blue” but said they were already planning on moving 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,” Kendrick 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.”
Kendrick also suggested a political motivation behind the dismissal with Klayman having unsuccessfully tried to sue former US presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as well as the incumbent Joe Biden in the past.
“The problem with American judges is that they are all appointed, believe it or not, by political parties,” Kendrick said. “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 told PlanetF1.com: “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.”
Kendrick confirmed the case would be refiled in the next two weeks but predicted it would be “two or three years” before the process reaches this stage again.
“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.
“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.”
The original version of this article stated that Mr Klayman was “barred from practising law”. Correction: Mr Klayman is temporarily suspended from practising in the District Court in the Southern District of Florida. He has moved to have this suspension lifted and stayed. We apologise to Mr Klayman for the error.