Indy 500 Champion Helio Castroneves Wins Breach of Contract Dispute
MIAMI – February 9, 2004 – Two-time Indianapolis 500 Champion Helio Castroneves powered a big win over former racing world champion Emerson Fittipaldi in a Miami court room Saturday when a jury denied Fittipaldi’s multi million-dollar claim that Castroneves breached a management contract.
Castroneves was represented by Larry Stumpf, a partner of famed lawyer Roy Black. Stumpf heads the civil litigation division of Black’s firm, Black, Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf. He has represented singer Enrique Iglesias in a contract dispute with his former manager and California financier Calvin Grigsby in litigation with Miami-Dade County concerning the crane operation at the Port of Miami.
“The jury found that Fittipaldi had no claim to any of his earnings after Helio properly terminated the contract,” Stumpf said. “Helio is where he is today because he’s one of the best race drivers in the world and because his family supported him financially and emotionally every step of the way, not because of anything Fittipaldi did.”
Castroneves signed the management contract in 1997, but after Fittipaldi signed him to two unsuccessful and financially strapped teams in 1998 and 1999, decided to go it alone, Stumpf said. He subsequently landed a spot on the prestigious Penske racing team and won the Indy 500 the first two times he drove that race, Stumpf said.
At that point, Fittipaldi sued for more than $8 million. Castroneves responded that Fittipaldi had mismanaged his career and failed to properly represent him.
The jury deliberated just a little more than an hour before rendering their verdict. “Sitting through the trial was the most difficult week of his life,” Castroneves said, sobbing with joy after the verdict was read.
“Reminiscent of his Indianapolis 500 victory, it was in the opinion of courtroom observers that if a chain link fence was anywhere near the courtroom, Castroneves would have climbed it,” said Stumpf.