Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Courthouse News Service
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Journey Guitarist Settles With San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Journey guitarist Neal Schon won't stop believing he got $290,000 by settling his discrimination lawsuit against San Francisco this week.

The '80s rock star sued the city a year ago, claiming it charged him "outrageously high" permit fees to punish him for broadcasting his 2013 wedding to a reality TV star at the Palace of Fine Arts on pay-per-view.

City officials did not want the couple to broadcast "a commercial event at this historic venue," according to his February 2015 lawsuit.

He had to pay a $100,000 "premium reservation fee" and a $50,000 "park regeneration fee," plus another $25,000 for a filming permit: far more than the $1,200 it charged for filming "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," Schon said in the complaint.

All told, the fees came to nearly $240,000, though the city's published rate for renting the Rotunda for a wedding is just $350 plus $100 per hour, Schon said.

"When the city tried to take advantage of us right before our wedding, we paid the fee because we would not let our wedding be ruined or delayed," Schon said in a statement. "But we didn't let it go. We hired great lawyers to help us rectify what the city did. If someone tries to hurt us or take advantage of us, we will always stand up for ourselves."

Schon's wife, née Michaele Salahi, made headlines in 2009 when she and her then-husband, Tareq Salahi, crashed a White House state dinner. The couple was later featured on the reality TV show "Real Housewives of D.C." before they split up in 2011.

Salahi called the city's conduct "reprehensible" and said she hopes city officials will "think twice before doing this to anyone else in the future."

Their tiff with City Hall hasn't hardened their feelings toward San Francisco, the Schons say. "Don't Stop Believing" remains the San Francisco Giants' anthem, and the Schons say they will continue to volunteer and give back to the community they call home.

"Despite what the city's government did to us, we love our 'City by the Bay' and its residents," the Schons said in a statement. "We couldn't be happier that we've been vindicated. The Bay Area is our home and we will continue to help our community as much as we can."

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the $290,000 settlement on Dec. 8, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler approved a joint motion to dismiss on Wednesday.

The Schons were represented by Rebecca Coll with Quadra & Coll.

"We were very happy that we were able to help the Schons get reimbursed for the money they were wrongfully charged," Coll told Courthouse News.

Sarah Madland, with the city's Parks and Recreation Department, deferred comment on the settlement to Matt Dorsey at the City Attorney's Office, who did not return an email seeking comment Thursday afternoon.

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