SAN DIEGO, Sept. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The US District Court for the Southern District of California ruled that the NSCA published bogus injury data about CrossFit® training and that a reasonable fact finder could conclude that the NSCA did so 1) knowing the data was false and 2) with the intention of protecting its market share in the fitness industry and diminishing the burgeoning popularity of the CrossFit program.
In granting CrossFit, Inc.'s motion for summary adjudication (see attached), the Court found that a reasonable fact finder could conclude that "…the NSCA fabricated the injury data and published them in [the Journal of Strength and Conditioning]…with the intention of protecting its market share in the fitness industry and diminishing the burgeoning popularity of the CrossFit program." The Court simultaneously denied a motion by the NSCA to dismiss the suit, refusing to allow NSCA to hide behind the First Amendment.
The Court's ruling highlighted some of the key evidence supporting CrossFit, Inc.'s position and suggested that a jury could conclude the NSCA published the false data knowingly. Notably, the Court discussed how the NSCA published the study a second time after CrossFit, Inc. presented the NSCA with detailed evidence of scientific misconduct. "Looking at the communication from the JSCR editorial staff to the Devor Study authors (directing them to include the injury data where the original draft of the study had none), a reasonable fact finder could conclude that the NSCA pressured the authors to include data disparaging CrossFit's exercise regimen, and the editor-in-chief's admonition—'[r]emember the paper can still be rejected if the reviewers are not impressed with the sophistication of the revisions made'—could be construed as a veiled threat that the JSCR would not be interested in publishing the Devor Study if it did not include information showing 'the fact many people do get injured doing these types of workouts, whether or not that "fact" was true in this qualitative study,'" the ruling states.
The Court also made clear its thinking on the evidence relating to NSCA's motivation for doing so: "The evidence now before the court could reasonably support the inference that the injury data were false and—worse—that the NSCA knew they were false and published them anyway in an attempt to protect its position in the market."
CrossFit, Inc. has been targeted by the NSCA, a fitness certifying organization, because CrossFit does not use the same accrediting organization as the NSCA. CrossFit's courses and certifications are accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
The NSCA published a study, known as the Devor Study, in which the NSCA's editorial team coerced researchers to concoct injury data with the clear intent of harming the reputation of the 14,000 CrossFit affiliates that have revolutionized and disrupted the fitness marketplace. The Devor Study's injury-related data is now false as a matter of law.
The NSCA attempted to hide behind the First Amendment in defense of the false data and other false representations, but the Court refused to shield the Devor Study as "non-commercial" speech under the First Amendment. Because the Court found a reasonable juror could conclude that the NSCA's goal was to "diminish the burgeoning popularity of the CrossFit program," it ruled the study is indeed commercial speech and therefore First Amendment protections do not apply. This element of the ruling carries significant importance for the broader debate over academic and scientific integrity and transparency.
CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman framed the ruling as a victory for all CrossFit affiliate owners, trainers and clientele – and another step in ridding the health sciences of corrupted, Big Soda-funded research.
"Our gyms are the truth tellers. We are going to drive soda and soda proxies like the NSCA out of the health sciences, and we are going to make sure their lies are made known," Glassman said. "It's safe to say we're eager to go to trial."
Moving forward, CrossFit, Inc.'s case will focus on whether the false injury data and other false representations in the Devor Study coerced and published by the NSCA: 1) were used in a commercial manner; 2) deceived or were likely to deceive consumers; 3) were used in interstate commerce; and 4) caused CrossFit competitive or commercial injury. The facts in the case, and the Court's ruling on CrossFit's and the NSCA's motions here, indicate a strong likelihood of findings in CrossFit's favor on these and other remaining issues.
Contact: David Marin
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SOURCE CrossFit, Inc.