Original complaints: Tonya Harding v. United States Olympic Committee

There are moments in history that include litigation. I thought I would occasionally track down the original complaints in such litigation--complaints that otherwise might not be electronically available--and post about the disputes. This is the first post in that series.

On January 6, 1994, shortly before the United States Figure Skating Championships, an assailant attacked Nancy Kerrigan at Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan. Ms. Kerrigan was unable to compete in the competition, in which the top two finishers would compete at the Winter Olympics in 1994 in Lillehammer. Tonya Harding, another skater, qualified at the Championships for the Olympics. She was implicated when evidence identified her ex-husband and his co-conspirators in the attack. Ms. Harding denied any involvement.

On January 27, 1994, the United States Figure Skating Association ("USFSA") appointed a panel to investigate her alleged involvement. On February 5, it charged her with violating USFSA rules and gave her 30 days to respond; after that, there would be a hearing.

For the United States Olympic Committee ("USOC"), however, that process was not sufficient. USOC wanted a faster hearing with the possibility that Ms. Harding could be removed from the Olympic team. On February 7, USOC asked Ms. Harding to appear on February 15, 1994, in Oslo, Norway, to show cause why she should not be removed from the Olympic team.

Faced with the prospect of removal, Ms. Harding filed a complaint against USOC on February 9, 1994, in circuit court in Clackamas, Oregon. The complaint has three claims for relief: breach of contract, contractual due process, and tortious interference. The basic thrust of the claims was that USFSA had the bulk of disciplinary authority in the first instance and that USOC could not interfere with its own investigation--particularly an investigation about events that occurred before Ms. Harding was named to the Olympic team.

Ms. Harding sought injunctive relief, damages, and $20 million in punitive damages.

The case is Tonya Harding  v. United States Olympic Committee (94-2151). The parties ultimately settled.

The attorneys who filed the complaint were Dennis P. Rawlinson, Brian T. Burton, and Don H. Marmaduke.



Exhibit: USFSA Statement of Charges - Disciplinary Hearing

Exhibit: USOC Notice of Hearing