Lawyer: $50 Million Cassadee Pope Lawsuit "Is Being Filed to Fix the Industry"
Although Hey Monday vocalist Cassadee Pope is only five weeks shy of her 22nd birthday, she's racked up more legal trouble than most people see in a lifetime. We recently reported on the $50 million lawsuit filed by her managers for six years, Driven Entertainment Group, and have since discussed the proceedings with both sides.
As it turns out, Pope filed a civil suit back in April of 2008 with the help of Miami lawyer Richard Wolfe to exit the contract she signed with Driven's Dominick and Tammi Centi and to dissolve her band Blake. The lawsuit argues that the contract was invalid because the Centis were not licensed and that the contract was not court-approved. These are claims vehemently denied by the Centis' current lawyer, Peter Ticktin, and that suit is still pending.
As for the current legal brouhaha, we decided to gather why this is happening now and spoke to both sides.
Wolfe unfortunately was not keen on saying much on the record aside from issuing New Times a prepared statement.
In 2008, Cassadee Pope sued Driven
Productions to declare the management contract between them invalid. Driven Productions secured a long-term
contract from Ms. Pope that violated Florida state law and the Centis
compounded that misconduct by failing to obtain court approval of any
lawful relationship with her. That lawsuit is still pending before the
Broward court with dispositive motions on file.
This new lawsuit is redundant and an attempt by the Centis to get
headlines by suing innocent third parties.
He did, however, add that another one of his clients, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino from Jersey Shore, was also sued for dissolving a relationship with his manager on the very same day. "Sorry, Charlie, he didn't have a license either," Wolfe said.
As for the Centis, Deerfield Beach-based Ticktin was quite eager to discuss the matter. Regarding the timing of this current suit: "We wanted to wait as long as possible for a couple of reasons. One
was that Cassadee Pope was just starting out four years ago with
Columbia Records. We thought that if we filed the lawsuit at that time
that it could cause her career to get ruined. That wouldn't have done
any good for her or us. It made sense for us to wait to see if she had
an opportunity to prosper."
Regarding the $50 million in damages: "This is being filed to fix the industry. We are letting Sony know that if they conduct themselves in this way, they're going to pay huge amounts. Anyone who Sony decides to hurt, they have no conscience, and they will hurt."
Centi added these remarks:
managed Cassadee for 6 years up until we negotiated the Columbia
contract with both Columbia's attorney and Cassadee's attorney in late
2007. At that same time, at age 18, Cassadee signed a management
agreement with us, extending the agreement to 5 more years. Things were
progressing, as they always did each year prior. We always saw
advancement year after year and 2007 brought us a quantum leap.
Here is the full reply from the Centis' lawyer, Ticktin:
It makes no difference that Driven was not licensed as a talent agent at
the time that Driven or the Centis signed Cassadee Pope.
is true that it is not permissible to act as a talent agent for more
than one act unless one is licensed. However, it is not true that the
Centis or Driven had more than one act. I think that Mr. Wolfe is
confusing the idea of representing more than one person with more than
one "act." Blake was a band that was part of the same act, as Cassadee
was part of the band. In fact, the band was named "Blake," which is
Cassadee's middle name.
claims the contract that was signed with Cassadee was not
court-approved. This is simply not relevant. There was no need for any
such approval. It is what lawyers call a "Red Herring."
Originally, Cassadee and her parents signed as she
was under 18 years of age. In 2007, when Cassadee was already 18, she
re-signed with Driven Entertainment Group.
In any event, just in case there
is any confusion as to the interference with the contractual
relationship, there can be no question that these officious interlopers,
on behalf of Columbia Records/Sony, interfered with the "advantageous
business relationship" between the Centis and Cassadee. The wrong that
they committed is egregious, and is going to be redressed. It is going
to take more than the sharp tactics of a top notch lawyer who is great
at splitting hairs to get these giant exploiters off the proverbial
In fact, I
understand that this type of underhanded client stealing is rampant in
the music business. It is time that the industry learn that it will be
costly to act unconscionably.
In spite of the legal action, both Ticktin and Dominick Centi were quick to note that Cassadee Pope is a "talent" and that much of the blame for this legal action falls upon her record label, as well as Sony's Jay Harren, and Ozone's Brett Disend, who, according to court documents, "told [Pope] that if she wanted to get her record deal with Sony, that she needed to leave the Centis behind completely, and terminate the agreement." Lori Pope, Cassadee's mother, is also named in the suit.
In spite of his own stake in the legal proceedings, Centi acknowledges that the average Hey Monday fan isn't likely to care about this lawsuit at all.
only appreciate her talent, just as we do," he says. "I can very easily remember
being a young music fan. All that mattered was the artist and their
music. We hope her fans continue to enjoy her music and shows and that
the already strong bond between Cassadee and her fans continues to grow
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