Former NBA star Steve Nash has successfully revived his lawsuit that seeks to remove his name and image from a series of fitness facilities.
In a decision released June 6 by the British Columbia Court of Appeal, Nash’s holding company, B&L Holdings Inc., won its appeal of an earlier decision in a lower court that had dismissed B&L’s suit against SNFW Fitness B.C. Ltd., Mark Mastrov and Leonard Shlemm. SNFW operates the Steve Nash Fitness World gyms. Mastrov, the founder of 24 Hour Fitness and the co-founder of New Evolution Ventures (the parent company of Crunch Fitness and UFC Gym) and Schlemm are former business partners with Nash on the Nash-branded gyms.
The court’s ruling clears the way for Nash to continue his pursuit of an injunction to block the use of his name and image for the Steve Nash Fitness World health clubs, according to a report in the Vancouver Sun. Nash’s suit also seeks costs and damages. The 23 Steve Nash Fitness World facilities are located in British Columbia.
Nash started Steve Nash Sports Clubs in 2007 when he opened a 40,000-square-foot, three-story club in downtown Vancouver. Nash, Mastrov, Angelo Gordon & Co. and Schlemm partnered to purchase Fitness World in 2009, renaming the Fitness World clubs and the Steve Nash Sports Clubs as Steve Nash Fitness World. However, Nash sold his shares in the club, and in the lawsuit B&L said he has not been involved in the clubs since October 2014, according to the Vancouver Sun.
Nash originally filed suit in October 2016, claiming that any use of his endorsement after October 2014 was unlawful and SNFW should be kept from continuing to use his name. British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Nitya Iyer sided with the defendants’ request to dismiss the suit in an August 2017 decision. B&L’s licensing deal with SNFW allowed for the use of Nash’s name in association with the clubs until March 2022, and Iyer concluded that SNFW had properly obtained the endorsement, according to an article in Vancouver’s Daily Hive. Iyer also ruled that B&L’s civil claim had failed to identify a proper cause of action.
However, B&L filed an appeal centered on the argument that the licensing agreement was to be governed according to California law, including the question of the legality of a business continuing to use a celebrity’s endorsement after the celebrity was no longer using the product in question. The Court of Appeal’s three-judge panel agreed to overturn Iyer’s dismissal of the suit.
Justice Richard Goepel of the Court of Appeal wrote that the defendants in the case had not adequately answered if the continued use of Nash’s endorsement in the clubs failed to meet California law, according to the Daily Hive. Although the defendants established that the original endorsement had been properly obtained, Goepel wrote, “the defendants had to go further. They had to establish that the continued use of the Nash endorsement was not deceptive or illegal under California law. They did not do so.”
SNFW, New Evolution Ventures and Mastrov did not respond to requests for comment about the decision.