Bode Miller breaks silence on legal battle with HEAD
Update 8:18 am CET: In the hours after this article was published, the Associated Press (AP) reported that the U.S. District Judge David O. Carter in California ruled that Miller had no personal jurisdiction to sue the Austria-based company, HEAD, in his court. The athlete’s attorney, Mark B. Seiger, said in an email to the AP that the lawsuit could be refiled in Colorado, home of HEAD’s U.S. headquarters, but Miller and Bomber might not find it worth the money to litigate “against a behemoth international corporation.”
After months of silence, Bode Miller issued a statement on Friday regarding his ongoing legal battle over his termination agreement with HEAD. The American revealed that his federal court hearing will be held on Dec. 19, 2016.
“I have remained silent about the pending lawsuit with HEAD,” Miller said. “However, as a result of HEAD issuing misleading press statements with false allegations and misinformation – it is important that I set the record straight for both my fans as well as for the entire ski industry.”
According to the press release, HEAD and Bomber will face off in Court on Monday where HEAD is seeking to win on a ‘legal technicality.’ HEAD has tried to claim that California should not have jurisdiction over HEAD and seeks to relocate the trial from Miller’s home state of California to another state that may have laws more favorable to them.
Johan Eliasch, chairman and CEO of HEAD, previously weighed in on Miller’s return.
“I am truly very disappointed to see that Bode has no intention to honor his word and that he intends to breach our agreement to that effect,” Eliasch shared. “We will take every action to enforce our rights against Bode. That said, HEAD would welcome Bode’s return to World Cup racing, but it has to be on HEAD equipment.”
In September, Miller filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Federal Court against HEAD in order to fight a termination agreement that both parties signed upon his retirement from ski racing in 2015. Miller agreed to not compete in a World Cup or World Championship race for two years from the date of signing of the termination agreement. The American hopes to return to competition on Bomber Skis.
Miller’s legal team argues that the restriction violates a section in the California Business and Professions Code that prohibits agreements which would prevent anyone “from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind.” In layman’s terms, Miller’s legal team is arguing that Head USA is preventing Miller from doing his job by dictating what equipment he can and can’t compete on.
“This is nothing more than a case of corporate oppression against an individual ski racer and our start up ski company, Bomber,” Miller said. “Throughout our work together, I had a great relationship with HEAD and made many friends there, I have great respect for the company and their equipment. However, when I retired I moved on and they should not seek to deprive me or my fans from my racing again. California state law clearly states that, with few exceptions, athletes may not be prevented from competing and earning their living. This is my last real chance to race competitively in the World Cup and World Championship, and it is disappointing to me that HEAD is trying to block me from doing that. I just want to ski.”
Miller was spotted this summer in Chile and later at Copper Mountain in Colorado training on Bomber Skis, but his timeline for returning to competition is unknown.