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Major Victory for CrossFit: Judge Orders Terminating and Massive Monetary Sanctions Against the NSCA

ByCrossFitDecember 5, 2019

On Dec. 4, 2019, Judge Janis L. Sammartino ordered terminating sanctions against the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) in the case of CrossFit, Inc. v. NSCA. With this ruling, the court ordered the NSCA to pay CrossFit, Inc. $3,997,868.66 as a sanction and then terminated the case in CrossFit’s favor. The Court also awarded numerous issue sanctions that conclude the NSCA’s corrupt practices harmed CrossFit (while benefiting the NSCA) in the military, U.S., and international communities.

CrossFit, Inc. sued the NSCA after the NSCA published a “scientific” study containing false and fabricated data about CrossFit’s injury rate that was designed specifically to harm CrossFit’s business and reputation. Additionally, as elaborated in CrossFit, Inc.’s June 2019 request for terminating sanctions:

For the last five years, the NSCA has engaged in nothing short of a marathon of malfeasance: a consistent, intentional, and malicious pattern of discovery abuses designed to cover up the NSCA’s wrongdoing and to prohibit CrossFit and the Court from learning the truth about the NSCA’s fraud. The NSCA’s abuses, and efforts to conceal its abuses, are among the worst of any published case in modern history and include systemic perjury, evidence destruction, and evidence concealment.

Judge Sammartino agreed. In the Dec. 4 order, she writes:

[I]n twenty-five years on the bench, “[t]his is the first case that [the Court] ha[s] ever had that has gotten to this point.” … Having carefully considered the record, “[t]he severity and frequency of defendant[’s] bad faith misconduct is as egregious as anything this [C]ourt has ever seen or read.

The order also provided CrossFit with the following issue sanctions against the NSCA, to be applied in the forthcoming damages phase of the proceeding:

a. It is taken as established that the NSCA’s unfair competition and false advertising—including its false statements in the Devor Article, Erratum, Hak Study, various TSAC Report articles about CrossFit, content promoted at NSCA events referencing CrossFit-related injuries, and republication of these false statements—have deceived and continue to deceive the public and consumers regarding the safety and effectiveness of CrossFit training;

b. It is taken as established that the NSCA’s unfair competition and false advertising—including its false statements in the Devor Article, Erratum, Hak Study, various TSAC Report articles about CrossFit, content promoted at NSCA events referencing CrossFit-related injuries, and republication of these false statements—caused a decline in CrossFit’s seminar revenue in the military, United States, and international fitness markets;

c. It is taken as established that the NSCA’s unfair competition and false advertising—including its false statements in the Devor Article, Erratum, Hak Study, various TSAC Report articles about CrossFit, content promoted at NSCA events referencing CrossFit-related injuries, and republication of these false statements—were willful and malicious;

d. It is taken as established that the NSCA’s unfair competition and false advertising—including its false statements in the Devor Article, Erratum, Hak Study, various TSAC Report articles about CrossFit, any content promoted at NSCA events referencing CrossFit-related injuries, and republication of these false statements—have increased NSCA revenue, growth, and goodwill, while injuring CrossFit’s revenue, growth, and goodwill;

e. It is taken as established that the NSCA’s unfair competition and false advertising were a material cause of CrossFit’s damages.

It is significant to note that the nearly $4,000,000 in monetary sanctions do not represent the damages owed to CrossFit, Inc. at the conclusion of this case. Sanctions and damages are separate and distinct. The amount of damages to be awarded to CrossFit is yet to be determined by the court.

CrossFit, Inc. provided the following statement in response:

The NSCA’s repeated lies to the public and court, evidence destruction, and perjury warrant this ruling. The Court’s watershed ruling highlights the NSCA’s extensive efforts to cover up its egregious scientific misconduct. As CrossFit has alleged since 2013, the NSCA and William Kraemer, the editor-in-chief of the NSCA’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, fabricated injury data about CrossFit, falsified the research record when presented with the true data, and committed broad detrimental research practices. The NSCA harmed the CrossFit community for its own commercial gain. But even more, the NSCA and Kraemer lied to the public, military, and lawmakers by claiming the NSCA was in the business of telling the truth for a living. This ruling confirms that everyone — including research institutions, taxpayers, and the government — cannot trust the information, certifications, or “science” promoted by the NSCA or Kraemer.

CrossFit’s experience with the NSCA provides vital insight into the widespread damage that results from bad and outright corrupt science. For CrossFit’s affiliates, this hard-won understanding is especially poignant. How many chronically diseased people avoided a CrossFit affiliate because of the false notion that CrossFit is unsafe or dangerous? How many more could have been helped or even saved over the years if the marketplace had not been poisoned with false information? The NSCA unquestionably has betrayed the public’s trust and defied its charter to serve the public decently and truthfully.

CrossFit, Inc. has remained resolute in the fight to vindicate its affiliates and trainers in the face of the false charges leveled against them and against the CrossFit methodology. This ruling marks a major victory in both this fight and CrossFit’s ongoing effort to pursue truth and expose deeply entrenched corruption in the fitness and health sciences.

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