Though a federal judge Monday said he "generally adopts" Lance Armstrong's claim that the U.S. Postal Service suffered zero actual damages from the almost $33 million it spent to sponsor his cycling team, the question of damages must go to a jury, clearing the United States' $100 million lawsuit for trial.
Either way, the wording in the ruling, filed Monday by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, suggests that the Postal Service team's success and the positive media exposure it provided may pose difficulties in winning full damages, primarily because it's hard to determine market value for "personal or professional services like those provided by the bicycle team". "Accordingly, the court declines to grant Armstrong summary judgment on damages and will set the case for trial".
The lawsuit was originally filed by Armstrong's former teammate Floyd Landis as a qui tam lawsuit that provides treble damages and would enable Landis to receive up to 25% of the total monetary recovery pursuant to the statute.
USPS paid US$32.3 million in sponsorship dollars to the cycling team between 2000 and 2004.
David M. Finkelstein, a lawyer in the Justice Department's civil fraud section, said the Postal Service had not done a study of the financial impact after Armstrong's admitted doping in January 2013 during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
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He also said it was up to jurors to decide if the government suffered any damages from the fallout surrounding Armstrong's confessed doping. Under the False Claims Act, the federal government which wants it's money back could have the amount tripled with Armstrong on the hook for it all.
A U.S. government lawsuit seeking $100m (£80m) in damages from Lance Armstrong has been given the go-ahead.
Defense attorney Elliot R. Peters, with Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco, said the ruling shows there is no evidence of quantifiable financial harm to USPS.
The cancer survivor was stripped of his seven tour victories after the U.S. anti-doping agency uncovered a clandestine and sophisticated doping programme.
On Monday, a federal judge opened the door for a government lawsuit to peddle its way to trial. If the government's case succeeds, Landis acting as the whistleblower stands to get a cut of the damages.