Back in 2013, Candlebox — the grunge chart-toppers of "Far Behind" fame — had been mapping out a comeback to mark the band's 20th anniversary. The band's then-managers, Atlanta-based Lujen Brands, signed a deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The tribe would hand over $400,000 and, in return, receive the rights to Candlebox's upcoming two albums as well as a fat cut of the proceeds from upcoming tours. But the $400,000 never came, Lujen claims. That's when Lujen filed a federal lawsuit.
The tribe responded by saying that, as an independent nation, it was protected from such lawsuits by sovereign immunity — a legal concept that prevents governments from being sued.
But this month, the federal judge in Lujen's case denied the tribe's initial immunity claim because of Lujen's unique argument: The sovereign immunity may apply to the tribe but not to the Seminoles' incorporated business entity. The court has now given Lujen 45 days to explore that issue.
It was "a very encouraging ruling," Stephanie Moon, Lujen's attorney, tells New Times. "We are now seeking to develop the court record. I don't know if anyone has ever claimed that the tribe's sovereign immunity did not extend to the corporation."
Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner downplayed the judge's ruling. "She's giving them a small window. It was not a ruling on whether the case proceeds," he told New Times. "In fact, she invited our attorneys to refile the motion to dismiss after the 45 days."
Lujen's president, Matt Iudice Jr., believes the ruling is a sign of good things ahead. "We will not back down and will continue our full-court press."