Lance Armstrong has fired off his kill shot.
It’s 59 pages long with 91 exhibits, all filed in federal court Wednesday in hopes of ending a $100 million lawsuit filed against him by the federal government.
If successful, his summary judgment motion could throw out all remaining counts against him in the government’s case, decimating a suit that accused his cycling team of submitting false claims to the U.S. Postal Service. The USPS paid $32 million to sponsor his team from June 2000 through October 2004 — an amount that could be tripled to nearly $100 million under the False Claims Act.
"In the cold light of morning, the USPS sponsored a cycling team, received far more benefits from that sponsorship than anyone could have anticipated, and therefore have no actual damages and no viable claims against Armstrong," his argument stated. "For these reasons ... the Court should grant Armstrong’s motion for summary judgment."
The issue will be decided by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, whose court also received a request for partial summary judgment Wednesday by the federal government. In effect, both sides are asking Cooper to decide key parts of the case without a jury trial. If Cooper doesn’t grant Armstrong’s request, the case would proceed to trial. A decision isn’t expected for months.
The government filed the civil complaint on behalf of the USPS in 2013, arguing the cycling team violated its sponsorship contract by doping and made false statements about it to continue payment.
Armstrong’s attorney, Elliot Peters, has noted that the sponsorship contracts were between the USPS and Tailwind Sports, the company that owned the cycling team before dissolving in 2007. Armstrong did not have a direct contract with the USPS.
"Armstrong was never a party to those agreements; he did not read or sign them," Peters’ argument stated. "He never submitted a claim for payment under either sponsorship agreement. In fact, he was not even a member of the cycling team when the USPS decided to sponsor the team."
Armstrong’s argument also hammers on a hot point of dispute in the case — the issue of whether the USPS suffered damages as a result of the team’s use of drugs and blood transfusions to boost performance. His attorneys say the USPS received far more in benefits from the sponsorship than it ever paid out and therefore suffered no actual damages.
"The undisputed evidence demonstrates that the value of the benefit that Armstrong and the cycling team conferred on the USPS is, according to the USPS’s own contemporaneous documents and public statements, at least $163.7 million," Armstrong’s attorneys state.
In its separate motion filed Wednesday, the government is asking the court to affirm that Tailwind and its predecessor company paid $32.3 million to the cycling team from 2000-04 based on 41 claims for payment. Each claim also could carry a penalty of up to $11,000.
"Although it turns out that Armstrong and other riders on the team used performance-enhancing substances and publicly denied doing so, the USPS enjoyed substantial benefits from the sponsorship and never took steps directly to address or prevent the use of performance-enhancing substances by team," Armstrong’s argument states.
Armstrong lied about his doping for more than a decade before finally admitting it in January 2013. In 2012, he was banned from cycling for life and stripped of all seven of his victories in the Tour de France. He has been sued several times since 2012 and has settled three fraud cases against him, including two with companies that had insured his bonuses for winning the Tour de France.
Follow Brent Schrotenboer on Twitter @Schrotenboer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org