A federal court jury decided Sept. 7 that Harrah's Rio Properties in Las Vegas does not have to reschedule a cancelled Rod Stewart concert. Instead, Stewart Annoyances Ltd. must return the $2 million
NEW YORK -- A federal court jury decided Sept. 7 that Harrah's Rio Properties in Las Vegas does not have to reschedule a cancelled Rod Stewart concert. Instead, Stewart Annoyances Ltd. must return the $2 million deposit plus interest.
The December 2000 concert was cancelled after Stewart underwent throat surgery for thyroid cancer the previous May, and he did not fully heal until the following year. Although Stewart offered to reschedule the show, Rio instead wanted its deposit returned.
The verdict was reached after a four-year legal battle over the interpretation of the parties' signed contract. Stewart initially agreed to perform a Millennium Concert at Harrah's on Dec. 31, 1999, and then amended the contract to add another concert the following year that required a $2 million deposit.
Stewart argued that one contractual provision -- requiring a return of the deposit if the show was cancelled due to illness -- only applied to the Millennium concert because that was a once-in-a-lifetime show. Another provision -- the "force majeure" clause requiring rescheduling if the show was cancelled due to circumstances beyond Stewart's control -- applied to the both shows. As a result, Rio must instead reschedule.
Rio won a motion for summary judgment in 2002 to get the deposit back, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. It held the jury must decide which contract clause should apply.
Stewart's lawyer, Louis "Skip" Miller, tells ELW that the jury instead decided that there was never a "meeting of the minds" -- the parties did not see eye-to-eye on certain provisions of the deal -- so there was no legal contract. As a matter of fairness, the jury decided that the deposit should simply be returned.
Miller says that Stewart's health is good and he plans to appeal to enforce the contract terms. Stewart's appeal from a California jury's verdict last November to return another deposit even though there was never a signed contract is pending.