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May 11, 2001

Edmondson Vs. AMA Re-Trial Will Take Place In July

The re-trial to determine the final amount of damages and legal fees that the AMA and AMA Pro Racing owe Roger Edmondson has been tentatively scheduled for the week of July 16-20, 2001. The exact start date will not be determined until pre-trial procedures held the week prior.<BR><BR>After a 10-day trial in U.S. Federal District Court in Asheville, North Carolina in December of 1998, Edmondson was originally awarded $930,000 in actual damages by a six-member jury. When the District court found the AMA to be guilty of unfair and deceptive trade practices under Chapter 75 of North Carolina law, Federal Judge Lacy Thornburg made use of his discretion to further punish the AMA by trebling the damages to $2.79 million and then awarded Edmondson another $390,000 in legal fees and expenses.<BR><BR>The AMA filed an appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. Finding an error in the jury instructions, the Fourth Circuit court remanded a portion of the judgment for re-trial in a ruling on the case made public February 2, 2001. The Fourth Circuit ruled that the jury in the original trial had been improperly instructed when it was not allowed to differentiate between the value of tangible and intangible assets in the damage awards. <BR><BR>Finding that the AMA used unfair and deceptive trade practices to interfere with contracts Edmondson had with racetracks while trying to start up the North American Sport Bike Association (NASB) and that the AMA had stolen Edmondson's mailing list, the Fourth Circuit let stand a judgment of $80,000 for Edmondson, which was trebled to $240,000. In addition to over turning a $100,000 award concerning TV contracts for Edmondson, the Fourth Circuit also instructed the District court to re-consider the legal fees and expenses award for Edmondson at the conclusion of the re-trial, allowing for the extra expense of the extended proceedings. While the Fourth Circuit's ruling was issued six weeks after the courtroom proceedings, a verdict will be available at the conclusion of the re-trial. <BR><BR>During the re-trial, a new jury will hear only testimony concerning the damages Edmondson suffered at the hands of the AMA. The Fourth Circuit has already determined that the AMA converted, or stole, Edmondson's share of the AMA/Edmondson joint venture business through unfair and deceptive practices. The jury will just determine the amount of money Edmondson is to receive as compensation. <BR><BR>Edmondson's award reduction from $2.79 million to only $240,000 has been touted by the AMA as a huge victory, but many legal experts and third-party observers feel that Edmondson may receive an even greater damage award at re-trial. That's because Edmondson's legal team is now better able to put a value on Edmondson's road racing business.<BR><BR>After the original trial, AMA President Ed Youngblood resigned while Edmondson was hired by International Speedway Corporation to start the new Grand American Road Racing Series for sports cars. <BR><BR>The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling included scathing comments about the AMA's conduct. Links to the ruling can be found in February 2 posts here on Complete coverage of the Edmondson trial can be found in the following issues of Roadracing World: February, 1999; March, 1999; April, 1999; January, 2000; March, 2000; April, 2000; December, 2000; and April, 2001.<BR>
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