Court backs Live Nation over festival theft claim
An appeals court has ruled in favour of Live Nation over allegations it was “stringing along” a country artist and businesswoman over her plans for an all-female concert series, before stealing her idea.
Rae Solomon, the CEO of Nashville-based East Hallows, approached the promoter with plans for the Zenitheve Music Festival.
In the summer of 2018, Solomon told Live Nation she hoped for a line-up including country music stars such as Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, Cam, Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce, Lauren Alaina and Lindsay Ell.
According to the lawsuit, East Hallows, which had not yet booked any artists, sought a $4 million investment from Live Nation and projected $14.25m in revenue, but also estimated a negative 46.95% return on investment in the first year. After showing initial interest, the talks fell apart that October, with LN telling Solomon the proposal presented too much risk.
A month later, Live Nation went on to to announce an all-female day at its Lake Shake Festival in Chicago featuring a “nearly identical” line-up to that Solomon had envisaged for Zenitheve. Investors pulled out of Zenitheve, and Solomon halted the project.
East Hallows sued Live Nation seeking $25 million in damages, claiming intentional and negligent misrepresentation
East Hallows sued Live Nation seeking $25 million in damages, alleging intentional and negligent misrepresentation under Tennessee law. It claimed to have lost lost $82,201.77 in original investment, more than $1.5 million in artist fees, and $138,600 in merchandise profits.
However, the district court concluded that East Hallows “identified statements that consisted of only sales talk, future intention, and opinion or that it had not proven false”.
“The reality that Live Nation concluded in October that it did not want to invest in a single-festival company lacking demonstrable financial viability does not create a factual dispute about its initial interest in the Zenitheve project,” it said.
“East Hallows claims that Live Nation misrepresented any intention of working with East Hallows because it had only one motivation from the start: stringing Solomon along and stealing her idea. That speculation, however, crumbles against Live Nation’s uncontradicted evidence that the organiser of the Lake Shake Festival, Brian O’Connell, had no knowledge of the Zenitheve proposal.
“Even if the record supported an inference that Live Nation copied Solomon’s idea, that inference alone does not contradict the evidence showing that Live Nation had an initial interest in Zenitheve or the evidence showing why that interest waned.”
“East Hallows has not shown that Live Nation made any misrepresentations in its dealings with Solomon”
That assessment has now been backed up by the US court of appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
“East Hallows has not shown that Live Nation made any misrepresentations in its dealings with Solomon,” it ruled. “Considering the totality of the circumstances, no reasonable juror could conclude that East Hallows justifiably relied on Live Nation’s statements to make purchasing, planning, or investment decisions in the festival.
“East Hallows responds that the sheer size and reputation of Live Nation justified its reliance on its statements. Not so. Despite Live Nation’s music-industry prominence, its expressions of interest – without accompanying commitment – justify the grant of summary judgment in its favour.”
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