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'Biggest Loser' Contestant Sued for Gaining Weight

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on July 09, 2013 12:45 PM

A one-time contestant on NBC's "The Biggest Loser" is being sued for gaining weight. FC Online Marketing, which owns the franchise ilovekickboxing.com, has filed a lawsuit against Tara Costa, who lost an impressive 155 pounds on "The Biggest Loser: Couples 2" back in 2009.

At the end of the day, it's a battle about the bulge. FCOM claims Costa gained back "far too much weight" in 2011 to represent the brand in photo shoots and public appearances.

Costa and FCOM have filed lawsuits against each other over issues of in-person appearances, signing with an alleged competitor, use of Costa's likeness and -- most significantly, says the company's chief -- her weight, reports Newsday.

Fitness Requirement

"We hired Tara Costa in 2011 to be a spokesperson," Michael Parrella, chief executive of FCOM, told Newsday. "She came on at a certain weight. We had a fitness clause. She was in material breach after she gained, in my opinion, about 45 pounds. She was supposed to visit 15 of our franchise locations, but we weren't able to send her anywhere because she gained a lot of weight."

FCOM also says it paid Costa's foundation, which owned her "likeness rights," $45,000 in exchange for her image and likeness. But because of her weight gain, FCOM says, her image has lost all value to the company.

Depending on the specifics of the contract, a contractual breach can occur when a party doesn't follow the terms of an agreement.

But is the "fitness clause" enforceable? In this case, possibly -- depending on how clearly the clause is written.

Since the whole promotional agreement centered on Costa's journey to a healthy weight, her physical appearance is important to the business.

Unless it's stated in the clause, what counts as a "healthy weight" -- and who should make that determination -- will certainly be duked out in court. It's unclear whether the fitness clause had a specific weight requirement listed or if it was a more subjective standard of "look how we want you to look."

Body shaming issues aside, the court probably won't be thrilled about having to determine what a "physically fit Costa" looks like, so the contractual language had better be pretty clear if it's to be enforced.

Non-Compete Clause

Non-competition agreements bar a party from becoming employed by a rival company or a company that conducts the same type of business for a certain period of time.

In this case, Parrella said Costa had signed with the gym franchise Anytime Fitness while she was still with FCOM.

FCOM may feel that it would lose the value of its spokesperson if Costa joins forces with a rival. Her being the face for another company could send mixed messages to the public. The non-compete clause is a way of requiring undivided loyalty from an employee.

But because of its restrictive nature, many states don't allow such provisions.

In this case, however, Costa's attorney denied that Anytime Fitness was a competing company. If that's the case, then the clause would not even apply.

Ironically, Costa is almost back to her trim post-"Biggest Loser" weight.

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