Rod Stewart must repay the $780,000 he accepted as a deposit for a Latin American concert tour that was canceled, a Los Angeles jury ruled on Friday.

Rod Stewart must repay the $780,000 he accepted as a deposit for a Latin American concert tour that was canceled, a Los Angeles jury ruled on Friday. The jury also assessed damages of $1.6 million against Stewart's lawyers and agents at the ICM talent agency for their roles in negotiating a contract for the tour.

"The message that is sent I hope is that big players in the media cannot treat little players with arrogance and greed and get away with it," said Dennis Holahan, a lawyer who represented music tour operators from Peru, Argentina and Oklahoma.

The contract called for Stewart, 59, to be paid $2.1 million in advance for nine concerts in Central and South America that would start in February 2002. The document was not signed by promoter Howard Pollack, although he E-mailed he would do so.

About $780,000 of the advance was paid before Stewart's associates canceled the tour in mid-January 2002; the money was not returned. Pollack and two other promoters sued.

"These men and their companies were ruined by this," Holahan said. "This is going to restore their credibility and personal reputations."

Skip Miller, the lawyer who represented Stewart and his co-defendants, argued the singer was entitled to keep the advance fee and be compensated for money he lost by not touring. Outside court, he predicted the verdicts would be overturned.

"It's ridiculous to find liability against a lawyer and an agent for doing their jobs," Miller said. "It's crazy. I will get this overturned if it's the last thing I do." He said that under California law, a business adviser has a privilege against liability.


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