ST. PAUL (CN) – Bret Michaels, former lead singer for Poison, claims a promoter gypped him for $400,000 in a bait and switch deal on cruise concerts – and he says one of the defendants ran a similar scam on Prince.
Michaels sued Shoreline Tours, Tim Towle and Willie Donwell in Ramsey County Court.
Michaels says he signed a contract to perform on a “Super Cruise” after Donwell claimed that he “had the financial ability” to do the deal.
The complaint identifies Towle as a principal of Shoreline, both of Ontario, Canada. Donwell is identified only as an individual from Detroit.
The complaint states: “Donwell, though, was merely a shill who executed the agreement while concealing Towle and Shoreline’s involvement in the event. Towle and Shoreline orchestrated this fraudulent scheme in order to induce Michaels to enter into the Employment Agreement with Donwell rather than them, the real parties in interest.”
Michael claims that Donwell promised to pay “$750,000 in performance fees” in three installments. The contract stated that Michaels would be paid “the full $750,000 if Donwell fails to make any of the scheduled payments, even if the cruise is canceled,” according to the complaint.
But Michaels says: “Shoreline ultimately assumed the role of promoter after the parties entered into the employment agreement, and Donwell stepped back into the shadows.”
Then Shoreline Tours began complaining about ticket sales. Michaels says Donwell sent him an email on June 6, 2011, stating that “‘we are using all available resources in order to help sell the cruise’ and ‘we have only seen a small number of cabins actually sold.’ This statement was false and designed to deceive – Donwell was attempting to induce Michaels to reduce his fee based on these false reports of insufficient ticket sales.”
Michaels says that when he asked for information on the cabins sold for the cruise, Shoreline’s responses varied, “from 360 to 390 to 398 to 106, even though there were 1,975 fans that made pre-sale reservations.”
He says Shoreline refused his request for contact information for fans who allegedly had paid deposits for their cabins.
“Shoreline concealed this information as part of defendants’ fraudulent scheme – by concealing the information Shoreline was able to misrepresent the number of cabins sold while attempting to convince Michaels to accept a reduced fee for his performance,” the complaint states.
Michaels claims that Shoreline principal Tim Towle sent him an email on July 2, stating: “‘Shoreline already faces devastating financial loss and can not throw good money in after bad not knowing if we can not work something out in the interim.'”
On July 5, Donwell sent an email backing out of any part of the deal, citing his health, Michaels says.
That same day, he says, Towle sent an email saying that it “would agree to continue to promote the cruise if Michaels agreed to accept a reduced fee in the amount of $100,000 in new money. In other words, Shoreline requested that Michaels agree to reduce his performance fee by $400,000. The dozens of emails from Shoreline and Towle complaining about the alleged lack of ticket sales were designed, from inception, to convince Michaels that the cruise was not successful and to accept a reduced fee.”
Michaels claims that Shoreline concealed that it was the financer of the “Super Cruise,” to try to duck liability.
Michaels claims that he found out, too late, that Donwell had used a similar scam to promote concerts for Prince.
“In 1999, Prince filed a lawsuit against Donwell for $3 million, which represented the amount he was owed by Donwell in unpaid performance fees. Prince alleged that he performed at seven different concerts pursuant to the parties’ agreement but was not paid by Donwell,” the complaint states.
Michaels demands $500,000 for fraud, civil conspiracy and breach of contract.
He is represented by Matthew Brodin with Briggs and Morgan.