Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Fan Sues Prince for the Rocker’s Guitar

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - A fan sued the artist again known as Prince, for his guitar and injuries, claiming he was hurt in a melee after the rocker tossed him a guitar, which stagehands then took away from him, saying, "It's just part of the show."

Perry Litchfield sued Prince Rodgers Nelson, Anschutz Entertainment Group, and Staff Pro, in Alameda County Court.

He claims that during a 2011 show at Oakland's Oracle Arena, Prince "made eye contact with the plaintiff for the first time" and "began to gesture as if he was going to throw his guitar into the crowd."

Litchfield - who paid $1,500 for two front-row tickets - says Prince made eye contact a second time and then threw the guitar to him.

He caught the underhanded pitch and then all hell broke lose, according to his complaint.

"The plaintiff caught the guitar and was immediately stormed by neighboring fans. Fans from the crowd gripped the plaintiff around his neck and shoulders and flung him to the ground. Security, provided by defendant Staff Pro, failed to maintain control of the crowd during this part of the show, and while plaintiff was on the ground the crowd tore at his clothing, body and hair trying to dislodge the guitar from his control. After approximately 60 seconds of the crowd swarming, security finally managed to regain control and disperse the raucous crowd," Litchfield says in his complaint.

He claims says that Prince's action - and Staff Pro's inaction - caused his personal injuries, though he managed to hang onto the guitar. That is, until a stagehand came up to him.

"The plaintiff was still on the ground when a stagehand approached him and demanded the return of the guitar. The plaintiff was shocked and distressed at the demand to surrender the item for which he had just sustained numerous injuries to acquire. The stagehand said 'It's just part of the show' before forcibly grabbing the guitar and returning backstage against the will and wishes of the plaintiff," Litchfield says in his complaint.

He claims the "theft" of the guitar constitutes conversion, and wants the court to declare the instrument legally his.

"By throwing his guitar into the crowd, [Prince] was distributing a prize to reward a lucky patron of his concert," the complaint states. "This view is consistent with the custom and practice of entertainment venues generally. This is no different than other items such as baseballs, bats and other equipment that are distributed for the fan in the audience to keep. This concept is not limited to items of low value - when Barry Bonds' record-breaking home run baseball was sold by a fan for nearly $1 million, neither the Giants nor Barry Bonds asked for a cent of the fan's gratuitous gain. Even fans at the defendant's show were yelling their congratulations to the plaintiff as he exited the arena, yet the plaintiff had only empty, bloody hands to show them.

"By throwing the guitar into the crowd, the defendant had manifested his intent to give it to one of the patrons. As this was understood as a gift by all involved and witnessing parties, title to the guitar moved with the guitar to the patron who was able to catch it, in this case the plaintiff.

"When an agent of the defendant forcibly grabbed the guitar from plaintiff's hands, this action was conversion of the plaintiff's newly acquired property."

He seeks damages for his injuries, a declaration that the guitar is his and the immediate return of the instrument.

The complaint does not state the brand name of the guitar.

Litchfield is represented by Jason Davis of San Rafael.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.