The deal with Competitor Group Inc. was quietly reached last week in San Diego federal court, where the case was moved after being filed last January in San Diego Superior Court.
Sundlun, 67, sued CGI for $146,000 — the amount he says he was owed in a severance agreement after being let go by the international firm in July 2016.The Santee resident known as “Mr. Marathon” had been senior vice president of Competitor Group, which has changed ownership of the years. CGI is now a part of Ironman-operator World Triathlon Corp., a unit of Chinese-based Wanda Sports Group.
On Tuesday, Sundlun lawyer David Greifinger said: “The case has settled and the terms are confidential. Neither Tracy nor I can make any comment.”
CGI and World Triathlon Corp. didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Lawyers for CGI said in court filings that Sundlun was denied his severance because he violated its terms. They said he disparaged the company in a Times of San Diego story that appeared in November 2016. Sundlun denies any disparagement.
(CGI alleged that Sundlun slammed the company when he said “the elite-athlete budget has been cut again” and “I just know that … [the elite-athlete budget] just keeps getting cut.”)
In the run-up to a possible trial before Judge Linda Lopez, CGI lawyers issued a subpoena to freelance writer Ken Stone, a Times of San Diego contributor represented pro bono by Dan Gilleon of San Diego.
Along with a request for documents, the CGI lawyers set a deposition date for Stone. (Only previously published documents were provided.) But with both parties agreeing not to call Stone as a witness, the deposition order was dropped.
On Dec. 11, the same day as the canceled deposition, the case was settled in Lopez’s court.
Sundlun declined to comment on the case against his employer of nearly 20 years.
With Tim Murphy, Sundlun helped grow Elite Racing — organizer of the original Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon in San Diego and the Carlsbad 5000. (Elite essentially became the events arm of CGI in December 2007.)
In May 2017, Sundlun told Times of San Diego that CGI owed him well over $160,000 and hadn’t been reimbursed for all his business expenses. He also said he was owed $2,000 monthly COBRA health insurance payments.
- JAN. 31, 2019: ‘Mr. Marathon’ Tracy Sundlun Sues Competitor Group, Company He Founded
NOV. 15, 2016: ‘Mr. Marathon’ Tracy Sundlun Hits Wall With Competitor Group
Among personal mementos yet to be returned, he said at the time, was private correspondence with his daughter and files related to his friendship with basketball great Wilt Chamberlain. (Sundlun coached Wilt’s Wonder Women, an outgrowth of the La Jolla Track Club.)
On May 12, 2017, Sundlun filed a complaint against CGI with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Greifinger said then that CGI was using the Times story as an excuse not to pay 38 weeks’ severance on his $200,000-a-year salary, plus other benefits.
“That doesn’t justify their not paying him,” he said. “(They) unilaterally backed out of the settlement agreement.”
Originally based in Mira Mesa, CGI moved to Sorrento Valley in March 2017.
But after being acquired in June 2017 by Ironman (owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin), CGI’s staff shrank from over 200 to about 20.
Former CGI president and CEO Josh Furlow — who let Sundlun go in 2016 — was himself fired in January.
“Somebody had to be the fall guy” for corporate losses, said an industry veteran who didn’t want to be named.
On Dec. 12, Magistrate Judge Lopez ordered both sides to file a joint motion for dismissal of the case by Feb. 10, 2020.
Sundlun is a member of the Running USA Hall of Champions and the National High School Track and Field Hall of Fame. A U.S. track team manager at the 2016 Rio Olympics, he continues to be active in the sport.
Next month, he’ll be a race director of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in the 50-kilometer men’s race walk, again being staged in Santee.
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