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MAC Presents Sues to Have Music Agent Cara Lewis Removed From Shared Office Space

Marcie Allen Cara Lewis
Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Billboard 

Marcie Allen and Cara Lewis attend Billboard Women In Music 2018 on Dec. 6, 2018 in New York City. 

Agency founded by Marcie Allen alleges "damages caused by Ms. Lewis’s conduct interfering with MAC’s rightful environment and business."

UPDATE: Cara Lewis issued the following statement on May 10: "We have reviewed the complaint filed by Mac Presents and Marcie Allen. This suit has no merit and was filed by Mac Presents in response to a previously filed suit by C Lewis Group against Mac Presents and we will vigorously defend it. This dispute arises out of significant unpaid loans and commissions that Mac Presents and Marcie Allen owe to C Lewis Group. We have no further comment at this time."

A representative for MAC Presents claims their suit was in fact not a response to Lewis's earlier filing.

Marcie Allen’s influential music-branding company MAC Presents has filed suit against veteran music agent Cara Lewis and her company Cara Lewis Group (CLG) in an effort to evict her from their shared office space, new documents filed in New York Supreme Court show.

In an explosive suit filed on Thursday (May 9), Allen and MAC accuse Lewis of a litany of offenses, including “abusive conduct” towards staff working out of the companies’ shared office space in New York City, engaging in a campaign to “disparage” Allen to both MAC employees and "third parties," failure to pay expenses incurred by MAC to help Lewis establish an independent agency and a refusal to vacate the premises after being asked by Allen to leave. Lewis is suing for declaratory relief of ejectment, breach of lease and ejectment, breach of oral agreement, private nuisance, unjust enrichment and unfair competition, among other charges.

Allen’s suit follows a summons with notice filed by Lewis against Allen on April 25, in which Lewis accused the MAC Presents founder of failing to repay a $325,000 loan, “material breach of a joint venture” for failing to distribute business income belonging to Lewis, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Lewis also asked for a declaratory judgment that Allen not be allowed to remove her from their shared office space on less than twelve months’ written notice. She is seeking damages of “no less than” $647,102.

One major point of contention between the two parties appears to be Lewis's characterization of the arrangement between she and Allen as a joint venture. In her suit, Allen states that Lewis has “mischaracterized” their business relationship as such, stating that Lewis in fact has “zero rights in MAC’s business.”

Allen instead claims that she provided Lewis with a “massive amount of support” to get CLG off the ground by providing her with approximately 50% of her office space for a reduced monthly rent of $5,000 (despite a total monthly rent of $21,500 and, later, $25,000), buying her furniture and office supplies, helping her establish an LLC, “providing “expertise and advice” and allowing her to utilize MAC’s employees and contractors for her own purposes.

Most dramatically, Allen specifically outlines multiple instances of alleged abuse doled out by Lewis toward MAC and her own employees, including “frequently bully[ing] people in the open,” “screaming and ranting on the phone and in the office,” “demeaning employees” and “generally creating an untenable work environment.” Allen also accuses Lewis of creating a “pigsty” in the office, which she claims was in violation of a policy that the space be kept “clean and neat.”

Allen further alleges that Lewis made “aggressive demands” on she and her staff and interfered in — and even attempted to cut MAC out of — certain business opportunities.

The relationship between Lewis and Allen harkens back to the mid 1990s, when the two women initially made contact on a professional level before eventually becoming friends. In the suit, Allen states that she remained in Lewis’s corner despite rumors of her abusive behavior (the suit cites a Page Six article that centered on Lewis’s so-called “Devil Wears Prada” reputation) and even when her other relationships in the industry began to sour. It further states that the shared office space arrangement came about after Lewis lost her job at CAA.

“Lewis called Allen again after Lewis’ relationship with CAA fell apart, with Lewis learning that CAA was not going to renew her employment contract,” the suit states. “After that occurred, recognizing that her friend was displaced and appeared to have no offer of employment in sight, Allen offered Lewis a sublet in her office in order for Lewis to start her own talent agency, even though Lewis had no experience and knowledge starting or running a company.”

Lewis’s agent list of high-profile clients remains an impressive one, with such high-profile artists as Chance the Rapper, Eminem, Khalid, Travis Scott and Taylor Bennett on her roster. She also previously represented rapper Kanye West. Prior to her tenure at CAA, Lewis worked as an agent at WME.

"During some part of” their three-year business relationship, Allen's suit states that the two women were on “amicable” terms and even “engaged in certain business opportunities together,” but that “hope and expectation has been completely shattered by [Lewis’s] actions.”

The partnership between Lewis and Allen originally sprang from the agent veterans' desire to compete at the level of major agencies like CAA, UTA and WME, combining Allen’s branding expertise with Lewis’s formidable client list. One example of that synergy came with recent deals made between Lewis’s client Khalid and retailers like Hollister and Forever 21 that Allen helped secure. 

Contrary to Lewis’s claim that she was entitled to twelve months written notice prior to her eviction from the shared office space, Allen’s suit claims that Lewis’s representatives had agreed in writing that Lewis was a month-to-month tenant who required only a 30-day notice of termination. It further states that MAC sent a formal notice to terminate Lewis’s tenancy on March 26, and that under the alleged month-to-month arrangement she was obligated to vacate the space on April 30. However, “CLG remains entrenched in the Office Space and has made no indication whatsoever of its intent to vacate,” the suit reads. Therefore, “MAC is entitled to a declaration that CLG is now a holdover tenant, retaining unlawful possession of the Office Space, and that it is to be ejected from the Office Space.”

"Marcie Allen and MAC were compelled to sue, as a last resort, to remove Ms. Lewis from their office space, and for damages caused by Ms. Lewis’s conduct interfering with MAC’s rightful environment and business," a lawyer for Allen told Billboard via email. "Unfortunately, Ms. Allen’s efforts to assist Ms. Lewis have backfired, resulting in harm to MAC’s business that this suit seeks to remedy."

A lawyer for Lewis did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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