Court blocks $500K award in Israeli-US skating dispute
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey court on Monday denied the Israeli skating federation’s attempt to recover more than $500,000 from a woman who sued to be allowed to skate for the United States.
The ruling by a three-member appeals court rejected the Israeli Ice Skating Federation’s argument that Andrea Davidovich should pay the federation’s attorneys’ fees, approximately $540,000, because she filed the lawsuit frivolously and should have first appealed to the sports international governing body.
Davidovich, 20, who lives in New Jersey and has dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, and partner Evgeni Krasnopolski finished 15th in the pairs competition in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Afterward, Davidovich sought to be released from her obligation to the Israeli ice skating federation.
The Israeli federation opposed her release, arguing it would encourage other skaters in whom it had invested substantial resources to take similar action.
It said the New Jersey court lacked jurisdiction to rule on the dispute, and argued Davidovich should have sought a remedy from the international body before turning to the courts.
The International Skating Union granted Davidovich’s request in the fall of 2016, a few months after it revised some of its rules.
In its ruling Monday, the New Jersey court noted that before the ISU rules changes, Davidovich’s ability “as an individual skater to seek redress directly from the ISU was uncertain. She did not deliberately choose to bypass administrative remedies that had yet to be clearly established.”
Stuart Slotnick, an attorney for Davidovich, said the skater “is thankful that the Court recognized that she has a right to pursue her dreams. She now happily puts this unpleasant chapter in her life behind her.”
Brian Spector, an attorney for the Israeli federation, said his clients “are disappointed with the decision and are evaluating their options.”