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Federal Court Dismissed Basketball Recruit’s Civil RICO Lawsuit Against Adidas


According to a report from ESPN, a federal judge in South Carolina has dismissed a civil RICO lawsuit filed by Brian Bowen Jr., a former five-star basketball recruit. Mr. Bowen Jr. alleged that the German-based multinational shoe company Adidas engaged in unlawful racketeering activity when it promised his father $100,000 to sign with the University of Louisville. Here, our West Palm Beach RICO claims attorneys discuss the allegations raised by the basketball player and explain why the federal court dismissed the lawsuit.

The Allegations: Bribery, Fraud, and Money Laundering 

In 2017, Saginaw, Michigan’s Brian Bowen Jr. was a five-star basketball recruit and a McDonald’s All-American. In June of that year, he announced his commitment to University of Louisville, one of the top college basketball programs in the entire country. In September of 2017, a scandal erupted when the FBI declared that it was investigating Louisville, other top programs, and Adidas for recruiting violations. Soon after, Louisville head coach Rick Pitno was fired.

This set off a chain of events that led to the suspension of Mr. Bowen Jr. and him eventually .  transferring to the University of South Carolina. In the federal civil RICO lawsuit filed in a South Carolina court. Brian Bowen Jr. alleges that Adidas unlawfully promised to pay his father $100,000 to get him to commit to play basketball at Louisville in 2017.

 Lawsuit Dismissed: Evidence Not Strong Enough to Prove RICO Violation 

To prevail in a civil RICO claim, a plaintiff must prove that they suffered irreparable harm because the defendant engaged in unlawful racketeering activity. It is a high standard. Even if you can prove fraud, it can still be difficult to prove a civil RICO violation. In this case, the federal judge determined that Mr. Bowen Jr. could not demonstrate irreparable harm. Mr. Bowen Jr.’s family received $25,000 of the $100,000 that was allegedly unlawfully promised by Adidas.

The plaintiff argued that the unlawful payment from the shoe company set off a chain of events that led to him transferring, being denied coaching, and missing out on a successful NBA career. However, the judge found that the alleged irreparable harm was far too speculative to sustain a civil RICO claim. As stated in the decision, many successful college athletes do not have professional careers and a “mere expectation” of an NBA contract is inherently speculative and, thus, not an available remedy for a RICO violation.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Civil RICO Lawyer in South Florida

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida civil RICO lawyers have the unique professional experience to protect your rights. If you have questions about civil RICO claims, we are ready and willing to get started. Call us now for a confidential consultation with an attorney. From our West Palm Beach office and our Miami office, our team handles RICO claims throughout South Florida, including in Fort Lauderdale, Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Parkland, and Jupiter.



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