Born Heather Sweet, Von Teese sued Momentous Insurance Brokerage of Van Nuys and broker Connie Woodson in Superior Court for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of oral contract, negligence and misrepresentation.
The world-famous burlesque dancer, model and costume designer claims that Woodson told her that nonappearance-cancelation coverage for entertainers would apply only to events she missed because of accident, illness or death.
Woodson also allegedly told Von Teese it would take weeks to issue a policy, so the dancer opted not to take the coverage, relying on Momentous’ experience providing coverage for high-profile concert tours, according to the 14-page complaint.
Von Teese says this proved a costly mistake when she traveled to New York on Oct. 24, 2012, along with her cast and crew for a show at the Gramercy Theater in Manhattan.
Hurricane Sandy was already making its way through the Caribbean at that point and hit New York City on the eve of Von Teese’s first performance scheduled for Oct. 30.
Von Teese says “production was ready to start rehearsals and performances” when Sandy punched out the entire power grid from 39th Street to Battery Park.
Since Gramercy Theater sits between those points on East 23rd Street, Von Teese had to cancel the New York performance of “Burlesque: Strip Strip Hooray,” according to the complaint.
Von Teese says she lost $96,920.94, plus interest, to cover the cost of accommodating cast and crew in hotels, in addition to other expenses.
Her company, Of Corset Is, and Strip Strip Hooray (SSH), the business entity for her shows, are co-plaintiffs in the suit.
They say Von Teese was “also obligated to perform additional shows for Live Nation without additional advances in order to make up for the $50,000 advance Live Nation had given to SSH for the subject New York performance,” the lawsuit states.
Neither Woodson nor Momentous ever explained the “absolute need” to obtain a policy for nonappearance and cancellation coverage for “natural disasters, acts of God, or force majeure,” the complaint states.
Credited with reviving and updating traditional burlesque dancing, Von Teese has been called the “queen” of the striptease dance style. She married musician Marilyn Manson in late 2005 but filed for divorce just over a year later. The couple finalized the split in January 2007.
The plaintiffs seek damages, loss of merchandise revenue, and costs.
They are represented by Keith Fink with Fink & Steinberg.
Momentous Insurance Brokerage declined to comment.
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