MIAMI - Helio Castroneves breached a management agreement he signed with fellow Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi, a jury ruled Saturday.
But the four-man, two-woman panel didn't award Fittipaldi, a team owner and former driving superstar, any financial damages. Fittipaldi's lawyer, Alvin Davis, asked jurors in closing arguments to award up to $3.3-million. Jurors ruled against eight counterclaims brought by Castroneves.
"This was the toughest week of my life," said Castroneves, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner who cried into a handkerchief as the jury's decisions were announced. "I'm just so happy."
Fittipaldi sued Castroneves, then a CART driver now in the Indy Racing League, nearly four years ago. He alleged the driver breached a contract with his company, Fittipaldi USA. Fittipaldi said the contract provided he would guide the young racer's career, find sponsorships for races and negotiate merchandising agreements, endorsements and appearance fees.
In return, Fittipaldi USA would receive a "percentage of driver's compensation, prize monies and revenues." That contract, Fittipaldi contended, was violated when Castroneves signed with Roger Penske's racing team in 1999 without first consulting with Fittipaldi USA.
"I dedicated two years of my life to him," Fittipaldi said after the ruling. "It's very disappointing."