‘I trusted’ energy drink maker but was shortchanged

FORT LAUDERDALE — Flo Rida’s “My House” reverberated through the Broward Courtroom Wednesday afternoon before being shut down.

The atmosphere was solemn.

“Thank you, no more questions for witnesses,” Matthew Dellabetta, the rapper’s attorney, said before returning to his seat next to the rapper in Miami.

The song’s music video, which features Flo Rida sipping champagne and Celsius energy drinks, is one of many pieces of evidence in the rapper’s lawsuit against Celsius Holdings. It has become a trend in recent years.

Flo Rida took the stand Wednesday to claim he shortchanged his share of the profit.

“I have done everything within my power to do my part, so I filed this lawsuit,” he said. “And with all due respect, I trusted them, but they didn’t do their part.”

According to his lawsuit, the rapper, whose real name is Tramar Dillard, was to receive millions of dollars in stock and royalties after Celsius hit certain sales targets.

Celsius met those goals, but Dillard’s company, Strong Arm Productions, failed to receive the bonuses promised in the 2014 endorsement deal, according to the lawsuit.

The defense argues that the endorsement agreement was no longer valid in 2019 when revenue surged and the company no longer had a relationship with Flo Rida. The product used was repackaged before sales increased, and Flo Rida was no longer entitled to bonuses under the contract.

A lawyer from the prominent Fort Lauderdale firm of Kelly/Eustal holds a Celsius drink and poses at Celsius-sponsored concerts and yacht parties next to celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Russell Simmons. The rapper sat on the witness stand while displaying social media photos from

Dillard’s lawsuit alleges that his celebrity paved the way for the beverage company’s recent boom.

One of the photos simply depicts Flo Rida wearing a t-shirt with Celsius branding and the word “PROVEN” on it. His other attorney, Christina Pearson, asked him for an explanation.

“Everybody agreed I was a proven artist,” said Dillard. “At this point, basically anything I touched proved successful.”

Celsius shares were trading at less than $1 per share in the early days, his lawsuit alleges.

Dillard also claims that Celsius’ former CEO Gerry David misled him by saying sales were not going well, which he believed.

“I trusted him like family,” said Dillard.

Gerry David will testify virtually Thursday.

During cross-examination, Holland & Knight’s high-powered attorneys representing Celsius questioned Dillard about the extent of his role in the contract with Celsius and his duties as a brand ambassador.

He admitted that he chose to include the drink in the “My House” music video himself, rather than as part of his obligation.

The trial is progressing rapidly, Judge David Haymes said Wednesday afternoon.Witnesses will continue to testify on Thursday.

Staff writer Rafael Olmeda contributed to this report.

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