MIAMI (CN) – The Rolling Stones’ longtime concert promoter can sue Live Nation for interfering in his efforts to organize the band’s possible 50th anniversary tour, a federal judge ruled.
Live Nation Worldwide, headquartered in Beverly Hills, first sued its former chairman, Michael Cohl, in late 2010 for $5.4 million. The ticketing titan claimed Cohl owed it for violating a noncompete clause and breaching his contract.
After Cohl resigned as Live Nation’s chairman two years earlier, he agreed to pay $9.85 million for “various right and assets” and a separate $5.5 million to continue working with his longtime clients, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Barbra Streisand and Genesis, according to Live Nation’s complaint.
Cohl, along with his Miami Beach-based company S2BN Entertainment Corp., countersued in January for breach of contract and bad faith. He claimed that it was actually Live Nation that breached the agreement by trying to squeeze him out of the promotional duties of the Rolling Stones’ (still-speculative) 2011 tour by bidding against him and “denigrat[ing] Cohl to representatives of the Rolling Stones.”
Live Nation moved to dismiss the counterclaim, arguing that Cohl did not specify which part of the agreement Live Nation supposedly breached.
U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga disagreed. “Defendants allege the existence of a contract that Live Nation breached its obligations under the contract by attempting to conduct direct negotiations with the Rolling Stones for its own benefit, and that Defendants have suffered damages as a result of Live Nation’s actions,” Altonaga wrote. “These allegations sufficiently provide Live Nation with fair notice of the claim and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Live Nation also asserted that Cohl has not been damaged since he never actually lost the right to promote the Rolling Stones’ tour. To support this claim, Live Nation referenced a February press release from the band that stated the Rolling Stones have “no firm plans for tour at this time.”
Altonaga rejected this, too. “Public statements cannot even be considered on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,” she wrote. “That the Rolling Stones may not have made any firm plans does not mean they have not engaged in negotiations regarding promotional rights for potential tours. Moreover, Defendants’ claim of reputational damages sustained as a result of Live Nation’s breach is not dependent on whether or not the Rolling Stones have actual plans for a tour.” (Emphasis in original.)
The judge did, however, dismiss Cohl’s bad-faith claim. Because Cohl did not cite “any specific contractual provision” that Live Nation violated, Judge Altonaga wrote, “Here, a claim alleging breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing would likely be redundant.”
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