Los Angeles Judge Denies Pallotta TeamWorks’ Request to Stop New California AIDS Ride
A Los Angeles judge yesterday ruled that two "competing" AIDS rides may both take place this spring, the Los Angeles Times reports. Pallotta Teamworks, which has operated the California AIDSRide since 1994, went to court to try to bar the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation from hosting their own AIDS ride, AIDS/LifeCycle. SFAF and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center had been the beneficiaries of the California AIDSRide in the past but decided to form their own bicycle fundraiser after "unexpected cost overruns" reduced their profits from the 2001 AIDSRide. Pallotta argued in court that in exchange for receiving proceeds from previous California AIDSRides, SFAF and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center had agreed "never to put on a rival, multiday cycling event without consent." However, Superior Court Judge David Yaffe denied Pallotta's request to halt the rival fundraiser, stating that "the so-called noncompete clause was not valid under California law." Yaffe suggested that he did not believe Pallotta had "a strong enough case" to win a trial. The three groups are currently resolving other issues in binding arbitration, including whether any of the groups are entitled to reimbursements for "hefty costs" related to staging the 2001 AIDSRide; whether Pallotta should receive damages for what it says are "defamatory remarks" made by SFAF and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center during AIDS/LifeCycle marketing; and whether SFAF and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center did in fact break a contractual agreement with Pallotta stating they would not stage a competing cycling event. AIDS/LifeCycle is scheduled for May 13-19, while the California AIDSRide will take place June 2-8. Both rides will originate in San Francisco and end in Los Angeles. The California AIDSRide will now benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles and 19 other groups across the state (Groves, Los Angeles Times, 1/15).
Room for Two?
Gwenn Baldwin, executive director of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, said she was pleased with the ruling. "We are gratified with the court's ruling allowing us to proceed full force with AIDS/LifeCycle. ... We are now eager to focus all of our energy on making AIDS/LifeCycle a hugely successful event for our clients, riders and donors -- maximizing resources for HIV/AIDS services" (Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center release, 1/14). Pallotta President Steven Bennett said that despite the ruling, he believes "it's a mistake to stage two such costly events" (Los Angeles Times, 1/15). Bennett said that two events will likely mean lower rider turnout and slimmer profits for AIDS charities, adding that only one AIDS ride will "bring people together and raise the maximum amount of money for HIV/AIDS causes" (AP/Contra Costa Times, 1/14). The splintering of the two fundraisers appears to have caused rider turnout for this year's California AIDSRide to drop. This time last year, 4,000 riders had signed up for the 2001 AIDSRide, but only 400 have joined this year's event. AIDS/LifeCycle has 700 registered riders (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/10). Bennett said he hopes Pallotta, SFAF and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center could "work together on a single event," but SFAF Executive Director Pat Christen said that AIDS/LifeCycle "will succeed" and is "right on track" (AP/Contra Costa Times, 1/14).