NEWARK (CN) – The leaders of a New Jersey production company claim Live Nation Entertainment, the “world’s largest promoter of live popular music concerts,” defamed them as “thieves” and “broke” and tortiously interfered with their contract with the New Jersey state fair at the Meadowlands, through “threats and false statements.”
“Among other illegal tactics, Live Nation threatened to deny ticketing to the venue if it were not permitted to share in the contract,” Juice Entertainment and its principals Thomas Dorfman and Chris Barrett say in their federal complaint.
The plaintiffs say that after they successfully booked headliners for the 2010 Latin Music Festival, they began discussions with State Fair Event Management (SFEM) to produce events at New Jersey’s 2011 state fair at the Meadowlands.
They were granted a contract to produce an electronic dance event for the fair, and to produce other events in a designated area for the next five years, the plaintiffs say. They say the powerful William Morris Talent Agency told them that it “wanted to be ‘the wind behind your sails.'”
But almost immediately, Live Nation, which Clear Channel Entertainment spun off in 2005, started using “heavy-handed tactics” to try to make State Fair Event Management cancel the deal, Juice says.
It claims that SFEM President Al Dorso told them that a Live Nation representative had told to him that Dorfman and Barrett were “‘broke’ and could not afford the necessary talent to stage the State Fair concerts.”
The Live Nation rep also claimed that the plaintiffs lacked the knowledge to produce events of the size required by the contract, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs say they tried to book Tiesto, the foremost Electronic DJ in the world, to be a headliner at the State Fair, by Live Nation prevented it, “by threatening him that he would not be permitted to play at other venues controlled by Live Nation if he appeared at the State Fair.”
And, Juice says, after sending “$1 million in offers to artists for contracts to perform at the 2011 New Jersey State Fair,” Dorso told them that a representative from Live Nation claimed that the William Morris agency “belonged ‘exclusively’ to Live Nation and that no artists represented by William Morris would be permitted to sign contracts with Juice Entertainment to appear at the State Fair.”
Juice says Live Nation has an exclusive ticketing contract with the Meadowlands, where the State Fair is held, and with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the owners of the Meadowlands stadium. They claim Live Nation used its pull with the Authority horn in on the contract by calling the plaintiffs “thieves” and threatening that “they would make ticketing services unavailable for the State Fair at the Meadowlands” if Live Nation was not cut in on the contract.
The plaintiffs say they tried to find a resolution by agreeing to meet with Live Nation, but that the defendant “had no intention of doing anything other than dictating terms to Juice Entertainment.”
Juice claims Live Nation told it they had to fire members of their team, that if it was not made a partner it would continue to block talent from signing with Juice and that it “would use its relationship with the Authority to pressure SFEM to kick Juice Entertainment out of its contract with SFEM.”
Juice says that when it refused to cave into Live Nation’s “shotgun marriage ‘proposal’,” Live Nation carried out “its threats and blocked plaintiffs from signing artists in time to meet the requirements of the agreement. As a result, Juice Entertainment was not able to sign artists sufficient to stage the shows at the State Fair.”
Shortly after, Juice’s contract with the State Fair was terminated.
The plaintiffs seek punitive damages for tortious interference, unlawful interference, defamation and unfair competition, and a permanent injunction preventing Live Nation from making any more defamatory comments about them.
The plaintiffs are represented by David Stone, with Stone & Magnanini, of Short Hills, N.J.