Friday, June 21, 2024

Madonna Concert Lawsuit: Judge Spikes Settlement Claim

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A lawyer representing ticketholders suing Madonna for late concerts in Brooklyn and Washington D.C. stepped over the borderline when he prematurely announced a settlement in the legal battle last week, a judge ruled Monday.

The federal judge struck down the settlement notice at an afternoon hearing after a lawyer representing Madonna and Live Nation argued it was filed in bad faith. The defense attorney, Jeff Warshafsky, confirmed the sides met for settlement talks during an 80-minute video call on May 29, but he was adamant he told plaintiffs’ lawyer Marcus Wolf Corwin that Madonna and Live Nation hadn’t agreed to anything yet.

“At least 60 of those minutes were him making threats to file additional actions against our clients,” Warshafsky told the court, referring to the call. “I actually said to him that I wasn’t sure our clients were going to [send written terms] and make an offer because of the threats he made on the call. I remember that because he took issue with me accusing him of making those threats.”

In a letter to the court filed Monday, Warshafsky said there was “no agreed-upon settlement” when Corwin filed the “false” notice of settlement with the court Friday evening. “To be clear, defendants are not necessarily opposed to settlement if certain terms can be reached. But defendants will not be harassed into settlement and cannot abide false statements made to the court. The false notice is part and parcel of the harassment campaign that plaintiffs’ counsel has been waging against defendants over the last several months in hopes of extorting a lucrative settlement by forcing defendants to incur unnecessary legal fees,” Warshafsky wrote.

During the Monday hearing, Corwin told U.S. District Judge Hector Gonzalez that he represents more than 103 people with legal claims against Madonna and Live Nation for problems at her concerts, including delayed start times. He said the settlement talks last month were held to resolve claims by his existing clients, including those behind the lawsuits filed in Brooklyn and Washington D.C.

“I believe we have a settlement,” Corwin told the court. “They never withdrew their oral offer. They just said they were not going to put it in writing. They never withdrew the offer. The offer is still out there.”

Warshafsky scoffed at the assessment. “We left the call with no offer on the table.” Judge Gonzalez agreed. “We’re far from a settlement in this case,” the judge ruled, adding that the need for him to step in to sort out the dispute was “not something I appreciate.”

In January, Michael Fellows and Jonathan Hadden sued Madonna and Live Nation when they attended Madonna’s concert at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on December 13, 2023. The show began after 10:30 p.m. instead of the advertised 8:30 p.m. start time. The plaintiffs accused the singer and the concert giant of “false advertising, negligent misrepresentation, and unfair and deceptive trade practices.” They complained about having to “get up early to go to work” the next morning and that the late finish meant they had to deal with “limited public transportation” and surge pricing on ride-sharing apps.

“The shows opened in North America at Barclays in Brooklyn as planned, with the exception of a technical issue December 13th during soundcheck,” reps for Madonna and Live Nation later responded. “This caused a delay that was well documented in press reports at the time. We intend to defend this case vigorously.”

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In April, three more fans who attended Madonna’s Washington D.C. shows filed a similar lawsuit. The plaintiffs, also represented by Corwin, allege the venue was hot and that they “had to leave the concerts early prior to the concerts’ conclusion, therefore depriving each of them of the benefit of seeing the complete concert.”

Last month, a concertgoer in Los Angeles filed a separate class action lawsuit accusing Madonna and Live Nation of negligence, breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit from lead plaintiff Justen Lipeles says the Celebration Tour concert at the Kia Forum on March 7 started more than an hour late, involved Madonna lip synching “much of her performance” in a “hot and uncomfortable” venue and subjected paying customers to “pornography without warning” in the form of topless women performing simulated sex acts. The lawsuit is set for its first hearing on Aug. 2.



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