In a decision yesterday (January 24), a Hamilton judge has largely dismissed Harvest Picnic's lawsuit against Canadian booking company the Feldman Agency.
Back in October, the Dundas, ON-based music festival's organizer Jean-Paul Gauthier launched a whopping $27 million lawsuit against the talent agency after 2016 headliner Jann Arden cancelled her performance at the last minute due to illness. That same suit further accused other acts Johnny Reid and the Cowboy Junkies of breaking their radius clauses — essentially sabotaging the success of the festival.
Things turned messy quickly with the Feldman Agency filing a countersuit in November, seeking thousands of dollars in unpaid artist fees and demanding that Gauthier's case be dismissed. Reid was awaiting reimbursement to the tune of $100,250 in unpaid fees, while performers the Rheostatics, the Killjoys and Jeremy Fisher, as well as stagehands and technicians, also confirmed that they were owed money.
Now, in a summary judgment, Justice Alan Whitten has criticized Gauthier's lawsuit and dismissed the bulk of it, accusing the festival runner of "cherry-picking" issues in the contract, while not honouring it himself by neglecting to pay out funds to those owed.
"Aside from broad allegations and stratospheric figures based on calculations of the ticket sales of the events … the plaintiff has not led any evidence as to actual out of pocket expenses," Whitten wrote [via CBC]. "In reality, the future of the Harvest Festival is more likely to be affected by the plaintiff launching this suit and not paying the artist completely. What artist would sign on for these problems?"
The claims against Feldman, Jann Arden and Arden's management have been dismissed. The radius clause claims against Reid and the Cowboy Junkies will proceed through a "simplified procedure," likely resulting in damages of $100,000 or less.
Reid, meanwhile, is still awaiting payment for playing last year's festival.
"You cannot come into court claiming equity if you yourself have not been equitable," Whitten concluded. "You cannot cherry-pick terms out of a contract to serve your interests and ignore others."