Sunday, June 26, 2016
ANDREA DAVIDOVICH VS. ISRAEL ICE SKATING FEDERATION, ET AL. A-0283-15T1
ANDREA DAVIDOVICH VS. ISRAEL ICE SKATING FEDERATION, ET AL.
Plaintiff is a teenage ice skater of dual United States-Israeli citizenship. She filed a complaint in the Law Division seeking to break free from the Israeli ice skating federation she represented in the pairs event at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Plaintiff, whose Israeli skating partner severed their relationship shortly after the Olympics, now wishes to compete internationally for the United States.
Under the rules of the International Skating Union ("ISU"), plaintiff cannot skate for the United States without obtaining a
release from the Israeli federation. The federation has declined to grant her such an unconditional release, contending that doing so will detrimentally encourage other skaters in whom it has invested substantial resources to switch their affiliations to other countries.
The trial court granted partial summary judgment to plaintiff and ordered the federation to issue a release over its objection. We granted leave to appeal to defendants.
We reverse the trial court's summary judgment ruling and vacate the court-ordered release because of (1) the strong general policies disfavoring judicial interference into the internal affairs of sporting organizations, (2) the need for possible non-judicial remedies to be exhausted with the ISU, and (3) the presence of genuine disputed issues of material fact and business justification. However, we affirm the trial court's denial of summary judgment to both sides on a separate count of the complaint alleging defendants' tortious interference with plaintiff's prospective economic opportunities.