As I have mentioned here previously I am an avid cyclist and triathlete. The most polarizing figure in both sports right now is Lance Armstrong. The United States Anti-Doping Agency has asserted doping claims against Armstrong and others. At risk are Lance’s seven Tour de France wins, the right to continue in the sport of triathlon, and the legitimacy of his cancer come back story.
This morning Lance, through some very fine lawyers, filed an extensive and lengthy lawsuit against USADA attempting to shut down their investigation/pseudo trial against him. The case was filed in the Western District of Texas and ended up in front of Judge Sam Sparks. Judge Sparks has written several aggressive opinions in the past and only waited a few hours to chime in on the Armstrong lawsuit and request for temporary injunction.
The highlights from his three page opinion:
- "Armstrong’s complaint is far from short spanning eighty pages. . . "
- "Worse, the bulk of these paragraphs contain "allegations" that are wholly irrelevant . . . "
- ". . . the Court must presume [the allegations] were included solely to increase media coverage . . ."
- "This Court is not inclined to indulge Armstrong’s desire for publicity, self-aggrandizement, or vilification of Defendants. . ."
One word on the tone of the opinion – ouch. Judge Sparks is armed with clerks who could certainly wade through 80 pages if necessary, if he wanted them to do so. Instead Judge Sparks has dismissed the case and provided Armstrong’s lawyers with the opportunity to file a new complaint within 20 days. In a footnote the Court also noted that contrary to Armstrong’s beliefs, US District Courts are not the place for press releases, internet blogs, or pieces of investigation journalism.
I would assume Armstrong’s lawyers will refile and cut out the rhetoric and hyperbole. But Judges are people, and you only get one shot at a first impression. Clients must always be sensitive to the optics of their first impression they provide to the Court with any lawsuit as must their lawyers. Does the lawsuit state too much? Does the first hearing really need to be over some minor discovery dispute? Has this former employee really breached their contract? All of these are things that must be considered before that first step is taken. Litigants should try to be reasonable and not waste the Court’s time, especially in Judge Spark’s court.