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Cancelled Virgin Fest LA sues over fees for Ellie Goulding, Lizzo and Kali Uchis performances that didn’t happen

By | Published on Monday 20 July 2020


The Virgin Group business that was set to launch a new Virgin Fest event in LA this year has sued WME over claims that the talent agency is refusing to repay deposits that were paid to Ellie Goulding, Lizzo and Kali Uchis when they were booked to play the festival. Due to take place in June, the event was cancelled – of course – due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the lawsuit – in which the US touring companies of all three artists are also named as defendants – Virgin Fest Los Angeles says that it was forced to cancel after the LA local government said in May that the event would not be allowed to go ahead.

In such ‘force majeure’ circumstances, it says, artists are obliged under the terms of their contracts with the festival to return their deposits. What’s more, it adds, all other talent agencies involved have agreed with that interpretation of the festival’s contracts and returned any money paid out by the event, with only WME refusing.

“After the government prevented the festival from proceeding, VFLA invoked the force majeure provision of the artists’ performance agreements and demanded the return in full of the prepaid deposits made in connection with those agreements”, say the event’s organisers, according to Law360.

“However”, it goes on, WME “refused to return the deposits and insisted that the artists it represents are entitled to keep the deposits – even if the COVID-19 pandemic constituted a force majeure event, even if the governmental orders prevented the festival from proceeding, and even if those orders likewise made it unlawful for their artists to perform on the dates and at the times and places specified in their agreements with VFLA”.

The lawsuit adds that WME has said that it does not have to return the deposits because the artists it represents were “otherwise ready, willing and able to perform”, even if the event itself was not going ahead.

VFLA is seeking a court order forcing WME to return the money, as well as damages on top. From the three touring companies, it wants additional damages for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

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