A Montgomery County-based pickleball equipment company is the center of a prospective class-action lawsuit, with JOOLA standing accused of making paddles that were not approved by the sport’s governing body.

The plaintiffs are seeking refunds and compensatory damages and costs for “economic loss, restitution and disgorgement of all profits.”

The case was filed June 5 in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Gregory Matus, a Fort Lauderdale resident, said in the lawsuit that Sport Squad, Inc., which does business as JOOLA, marketed and sold pickleball paddles as if USA Pickleball had approved them.

Montgomery County-based pickleball equipment maker JOOLA faces a potential class-action lawsuit over whether it sold equipment not approved by USA Pickleball, the governing body of the growing sport. (USA Pickleball)

If approved by a federal judge, the class could represent more than 5,000 buyers from more than 16 states, including Maryland. The plaintiffs are seeking more than $5 million in damages.

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Plaintiffs are asking courts to determine whether JOOLA knew or should have known about an “administrative error” and whether the company failed to disclose material facts about the paddle. Plaintiffs say that JOOLA defrauded buyers and that they are “trapped” with premium paddles that they otherwise would not have bought — paddles that cannot be used in sanctioned events or local courts.

On June 5, USA Pickleball said in the lawsuit that it delisted the paddles after JOOLA notified the body that it had submitted the wrong paddles for certification.

USA Pickleball said it tested the newly submitted paddles, but it did not approve them. The national governing body also runs an equipment evaluation committee that works with NTS Technical Systems to dictate rigorous standards.

JOOLA has been selling the Gen3 paddles for $279.95 since the company obtained the approval in November 2023. But in May, the national governing body said JOOLA submitted the wrong paddles for certification and removed the paddles from their list.

JOOLA said in a statement that the company had made an “administrative error” during their testing process.

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Court records say the company is still marketing and selling the paddles with the approval designation imprinted on them. Plaintiffs are calling the move a “bait and switch scheme.”

Pickleball has grown popular in the past few years, and is the “fastest growing sport” in the country, according to court records.

“News of the de-certification of the Subject Paddles sent shockwaves through the pickleball community, causing panic for players registered to compete as both amateurs and professionals in USAP sanctioned events,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys said in the lawsuit.

JOOLA maintains that the paddles that were initially approved in November are “materially the same” as other certified models and that they are “fully compliant with USAP’s standards.” The company said it is in the process to approve more than 40 paddles and is offering refunds to customers who purchased Gen3 paddles between April 16 and June 15.

“While we are confident the current Gen3 paddles are materially and structurally the same as those approved by USAP in September 2023 and therefore comply with USAP standards, we care deeply about our customers and the inconvenience and confusion the USAP decision has caused,” JOOLA said in a statement June 5.

The company refiled the Gen3 paddles for expedited testing a few days after the national governing body decertified them. USA Pickleball has not been able to give them a timeline on when they may recertify the paddles.