The fascinating insider machinations of a lawsuit between surfer and one-time sugar daddy…
Back in January 2017, fresh off his second World Surf League Men’s Championship, John John Florence entered into a three-year agreement with Monster Energy Company, formally Hansen Beverage Company (quite the pivot there).
The agreement was slated to run from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2019.
The agreement granted Monster the right to use “Florence’s name, imagery, nickname” among other things. Florence in part agreed “to promote and endorse these beverages” in return for a minimum of $500,000 per year, which consisted of a base salary of $350,000 plus an additional $150,000 per year for a “media production recounting Florence’s pursuit of the world surfing title.” Florence also could have made an additional $150,000 in incentives.
The agreement is notably devoid of any mention of the commercialization of Florence’s trademark goatee/neckbeard hybrid.
In May 2017, Monster allegedly sent a new draft of the original agreement which stipulated that Monster would only pay Florence $150,000 during the first year of the contract for the media production.
The initial complaint, filed May 18, 2018 in California state court, alleged that after “Monster’s refusal to honor the 2017 Agreement,” Monster continued to use Florence in its advertisements, “causing Florence . . . embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional distress.” Monster allegedly used Florence’s name into 2018 “and possibly later.”
The complaint further alleged that Monster’s misconduct “was undertaken with fraud, oppression, and malice . . . with the intention of causing and/or reckless disregard of causing Florence to experience embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional distress.”
In Monster’s answer filed September 20, 2018, Monster denied “each and every allegation of the Complaint, both generally and specifically.”
Monster challenged the suit and the validity of the purported contract on numerous grounds.
Among them, Monster asserted the doctrine of unclean hands, which bars relief to a party who has (allegedly) engaged in inequitable behavior, including fraud, deceit, or bad faith.
Monster also asserted that “Monster was unaware that Florence concealed or suppressed material facts and would not have signed the contract if Monster had known such representations by Florence were false.”
The answer did not substantiate what the alleged suppressed material facts were.
For context, Florence sustained a knee injury in early 2018 before reinjuring that knee in 2019.
Much of the litigation is confidential, as the parties stipulated to a protective order in May 2018.
On August 5, 2019, the parties reached a settlement agreement for an unknown sum.
The case was dismissed the following month, leaving several highly technical legal questions unanswered.
What did John John allegedly misrepresent?
A noted health nut, has John John ever actually tasted a Monster Energy drink?
What was John John so embarrassed about?