NSCA Ordered to Pay Nearly $4M in CrossFit’s Legal Fees

Yesterday was a HUGE day for CrossFit and its community, as a whole. The judge presiding over their case with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) has ruled the NSCA is responsible for nearly $4 million in CrossFit’s legal fees.

Let’s catch you up. In 2013, the NSCA released a study making allegations that CrossFit had dangerously-high injury rates. This report quickly became the catalyst of a stigma surrounding CrossFit that the fitness modality is dangerous. But it was all faked. A court found in 2016 that the injury data in the report was fabricated and was published “with the intention of protecting [the NSCA’s] market share in the fitness industry.”

Since then, even the NSCA’s insurance provider has sued them to be released from the liability of paying for their behavior. 

Yesterday’s legal findings largely encircled how the NSCA handled a court-ordered independent evaluation of their internal documents and communications. Morning Chalk Up has shared the court document. I have a link to that in my show notes at WODDITY.com if you want to read the thing. It’s dry, but damning.

According to the court, “CrossFit has established that the NSCA intended to and did deprive

CrossFit of electronically-stored information relevant to this litigation…”

The court ordered the NSCA to comply with any discovery efforts in 2015, 2017, and again in 2018, but found those gentler orders weren’t working. They wrote, “those lesser sanctions and warnings have proven ineffective. Whether out of spite or incompetence, the NSCA repeatedly obstructed Stroz’s forensic evaluation, unable or unwilling to identify custodians, search terms, and devices.”

Stroz is an independent party selected to evaluate the NSCA’s electronic devices and data to find evidence in this case. 

The court goes on to say, “Stroz discovered mass deletions and deletions of presumptively relevant documents occurring even after the Court imposed lesser sanctions in May 2017…Meanwhile, the NSCA refuses to take accountability, instead misrepresenting Stroz’s findings and blaming its prior counsel.”

The 49-page court order, which I read through this morning, has some damning language against the NSCA. They ruled in CrossFit’s favor that the NSCA has:

  1. “deceived and continue to deceive the public and consumers regarding the safety and effectiveness of CrossFit training;”
  2. “caused a decline in CrossFit’s seminar revenue in the military, United States, and international fitness markets;”
  3. “were willful and malicious;”
  4. “have increased NSCA revenue, growth, and goodwill, while injuring CrossFit’s revenue, growth, and goodwill;”
  5. And that “the NSCA’s unfair competition and false advertising were a material cause of CrossFit’s damages”

Finally, let’s talk about the monetary award.

“Given the Court’s conclusion that every cost CrossFit seeks to recover…is attributable to the NSCA’s bad faith, the Court determines that the NSCA’s challenges…are without merit.”

They go on to conclude that, “Accordingly, the Court AWARDS CrossFit monetary sanctions in the form of attorneys’ fees in the amount of $3,997,868.66.”

For next steps, CrossFit and the NSCA are required to meet before the end of the year to iron out the value of the damages and file a joint report by January 14th. If they can’t it sounds like the court will rule on CrossFit’s behalf. Then, my favorite quote: “It is so ordered.”

The other big news of the day is that two-time champion Katrin Davidsdottir sat down with Shape Magazine to talk through her body image and how the CrossFit season changes how she looks at her body throughout the year. You probably didn’t miss that Davidsdottir was featured in ESPN The Magazine’s final print edition of their Body Issue, where she talked about her body, her first time posing naked, and why it’s important for women to embrace their bodies and find all shapes and levels of fitness to be beautiful.

And that’s it for news about CrossFit for Thursday, December 5th. Thanks for listening. Please be sure to rate, review, subscribe, and share. For WODDITY, I’m Ben Garves. We’ll chat tomorrow. Unless you’re internet stalking me. In which case, I’ll see you on yesterday’s episode.

By Ben Garves

Ben Garves is a digital product expert, author, entertainer, and activist. His portfolio of thought leadership in digital marketing and web experiences has included major clients like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, eBay, and Facebook. He’s also a freelance health and fitness journalist with over 400 stories written since 2018, a podcaster with 200 episodes to his name, and runs a YouTube channel with over 100 fitness and activism-oriented videos and live streams. Ben has founded the Fitness is for Everyone™ initiative to raise awareness about social injustice in both racial inequality and socioeconomic disparity in access to quality fitness and nutrition options around the globe.