On the day that seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong filed a lawsuit to prevent the USADA from punishing him, a judge in Armstrong’s hometown of Austin, TX dismissed the lawsuit and all other pleadings filed along with it, including a motion for a temporary restraining order. Ultimately, the basis of the ruling by Judge Sam Sparks of the United States District Court for the District of Western District of Texas was that Armstrong’s filings did not comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8 sets forth the “General Rules of Pleading” for filing cases in federal court. Given that Armstrong’s lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court, it was required to comply with the parameters set forth by Rule 8.
In Judge Sparks’ ruling, he makes direct mention of Armstrong’s failure to comply with Rule 8 (a). In particular, Rule 8 (a) requires that a pleading contain “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction. . ., a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief.”
Armstrong’s dismissed complaint was neither short nor plain. In fact, the complaint spans 80 pages. This would not be an issue if the 80 pages was used to make a short and plain statement explaining the legal reasons why Armstrong is entitled to relief in this case. Rather, the first 70 pages of the complaint are used to set forth things like Armstrong’s personal history (including swimming and triathlon awards he won as a child), as well as every fault Armstrong finds with the USADA. Such arguments are not appropriate for a complaint, but rather are matters that should be presented to a jury once the case reaches the trial stage.
Armstrong’s 80-page complaint only contained ten pages of legal argument. In those ten pages, Armstrong raised causes of action for Fifth Amendment procedural due process, common law due process, tortious interference with contract, and declaratory judgment. Ultimately, Armstrong sought injunctive relief preventing Armstrong from having to accept the USADA’s punishments or the same being impsoed against him, declaratory judgments preventing the USADA from punishing Armstrong and monetary damages.
Ultimately, Judge Sparks dismissed Armstrong’s lawsuit without prejudice. This means that Armstrong has the opportunity to re-file the motion within the 20 days following is dismissal. One can bet that Armstrong will take this action. In fact, re-filing should be expected to come before the weekend. This is due to the fact that Armstrong has until Saturday to accept or reject the sanctions set forth against him by the USADA. Thus, if his lawsuit and motion for a temporary restraining order are not re-filed by Friday, a judge will not have an opportunity to rule on the temporary restraining order. If a temporary restraining order is not granted in this case, then Armstrong will have to follow the USADA’s procedures and accept or reject its sanctions. Thus, it is of the utmost importance to Armstrong that his legal counsel re-files its claims by this Friday, at the latest.