In an opinion released Monday (Aug. 15), U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly threw out a $90 million verdict against Clear Channel Entertainment (CCE) previously won by a division of Chicago-ba
In an opinion released Monday (Aug. 15), U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly threw out a $90 million verdict against Clear Channel Entertainment (CCE) previously won by a division of Chicago-based promoter Jam Productions.
Earlier this year, a Chicago jury had awarded more than $90 million to JamSports and Entertainment LLC on March 21 in a suit against CCE and Paradama Productions (dba AMA Pro Racing) regarding promotion of American Motorcycle Assn. (AMA) events (Billboard.biz, March 29).
"The court clearly found that the jury's verdict was unreasonable in light of the evidence," Andy Levin, executive VP and chief legal officer for Clear Channel tells Billboard.biz. "We're very pleased with the decision and look forward to a new trial and a just result."
In a post-trial motion filed by CCE, the judge ruled in favor of CCE by throwing out the "tortious interference with prospective advantage" claim. Kennelly upheld the jury's finding in favor of Jam on a separate claim that CCE tortiously interfered with a contract that JamSports had entered into with AMA, saying he found "ample evidence" supporting the jury’s decision in that regard.
The jury had lumped together the damages on the two claims, awarding Jam $17,144,573 in lost profits plus $73 million in punitive damages. To split them up and determine damages only on the contract-based claim, the judge says a new trial is required. A new jury will be impaneled to hear evidence and decide the amount.
"Although we are mildly disappointed by the result, we look forward to another trial where we expect a new jury will award JamSports even more money than the $90 million that the first jury awarded," Jeffrey Singer, lead attorney for JamSports, tells Billboard.biz.
JamSports filed the suit in April 2002 in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Illinois. The trial began Feb. 7. The focus of the case was on promotional rights for supercross events for the AMA.
At issue was a long-term contract to produce supercross events, which for years were promoted by CCE's motorsports division. The AMA had signed a letter of intent with JamSports in late 2001 for a long-term deal, but supercross ended up back with CCE. Jam alleged that CCE unfairly used its clout in the marketplace to shut out JamSports, the sports division of Jam Productions, from producing such events.
In addition to the wrongful interference findings, the jury also held Paradama liable for breach of contract, awarding Jam $169,314.19 in out-of-pocket expenses plus $1 in lost profits. The jury rulled in favor of CCE on a key antitrust claim.