In an astounding conclusion to a week-long trial in San Jose, the owners of Cotati bike company Volagi have been ordered to pay cycling giant Specialized just $1 in damages for breach of contract.
“Best dollar we ever spent,” Volagi posted on Twitter.
The jury announcement was made today, and sends a clear message about noncompete clauses, says Volagi co-owner Robert Choi. “We hope that the jury is sending a message to Specialized that this was unjust in a way,” he told Bike Radar today, immediately after the trial.
All charges against Barley Forsman were dropped. Technically, Choi was found in violation of a noncompete clause by helping found Volagi while still employed by Specialized, but the symbolic $1 in damages shows the jury obviously felt that the “Big S” wasn’t hurt in a substantial way.
Volagi was also able to keep their Longbow Flex patent, their frame design and “the color red.”
Specialized Mike Sinyard issued his own statement to Bike Radar: “This lawsuit was a matter of principle and about protecting our culture of trust and innovation. We respect the ruling of the court in our favor. We are very satisfied with the outcome and the damages set at $1.00. We really want to put all our passion and time into growing the sport of cycling.”
In researching this week’s Bohemian news story on the case, I looked through Specialized’s very aggressive pre-trial brief, and I somehow doubt that Sinyard is “very satisified” with a $1 payment, especially considering that Specialized was demanding restitution of $1.5 million in legal fees alone.
For their part, Volagi appears to be planning a 100-cyclist ride from Cotati to Specialized’s Morgan Hill headquarters to settle their debt. “Each one must bring a penny,” their Twitter feed says.
For more, see this week’s news story about the local bike community’s reaction to the lawsuit.