LAS VEGAS (CN) – A sculptor whose large creation honors the men who built the Hoover Dam will collect $2.2 million from the dam’s café and its owner, a federal judge ordered.
U.S. District Judge George Foley Jr. on Monday ordered Bert Hansen, the owner of the High Scaler Cafe and the former Hoover Dam Snacketeria, to pay $2,180,573.01 to Steven Liguori and his company, the Bruno Liguori Turquoise Trading Post, for violating a licensing agreement and copyrights.
Foley ordered Hansen to pay $1,350,000, plus prejudgment interest of $830,573, and costs.
In his April 2010 federal lawsuit, Liguori said Hansen and the Snacketeria had commissioned him to create a “large-scale sculpture of a worker on Hoover Dam,” which Liguori named the “High Scaler.” The sculpture was is placed near the gift shop and café that Hansen owns and operates at Hoover Dam.
The Snacketeria was renamed the High Scaler Café.
In 1995, Liguori created a statue based on Hoover Dam worker and high-scaler Joe Kine in honor of the Hoover Dam’s 60th anniversary, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Then in 1998, Liguori and Hansen agreed to create the High Scaler monument, near the High Scaler Café, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.
Liguori said in his lawsuit that most of his compensation was to come from a licensing agreement made with Hansen: In exchange for the right to manufacture and sell souvenirs based on Liguori’s work, Hansen agreed to pay a 17 percent royalty on all of the licensed products.
Liguori said he copyrighted all of his sketches and other works about the Hoover Dam and the monument.
Hansen “exploited” the monument to “great commercial advantage” by manufacturing and selling a “significant volume of souvenirs that that utilize” his work, Liguori said.
Hansen used likenesses of the sculpture in ways that “go far beyond the licensed purposes,” including in marketing materials, the menu, signs, and other items for the High Scaler Café, Liguori said.
Although Hansen and his business “have recognized a very substantial benefit” from Liguori’s work, the sculptor says Hansen and his company “utterly refused to fulfill their obligations under the license agreement” and did not pay all of the royalties due.
Liguori accused Hansen and his businesses of copyright infringement, breach of contract and bad faith. He sought injunctive relief, impoundment of infringing items, compensatory, statutory and punitive damages.
Liguori’s attorney Todd Moody, with Hutchison & Steffen, was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.
Hansen could not be reached for comment.
(Note: On Wednesday, Judge Foley amended his order, reducing the payment to $2,148,463: $1,331,000 plus prejudgment interest of $817,463.)
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