The legal fight between Eddie Money and his former drummer Glenn Symmonds is heating up as their case heads to trial in November.
More than a year after Symmonds sued Money for wrongful termination, age discrimination and other alleged offenses in California state court — later amending the complaint to include allegations of sexual harassment by Symmond’s wife — Money is appealing the court’s recent denial of his motion to dismiss some of the suit’s claims. Money had sought to dismiss some of the allegations by filing an “anti-SLAPP” motion, used when defendants believe certain actions are within their First Amendment rights.
“Last I checked, this was still America and artists have the right to decide who plays in their faceless back-up band,” one of Money’s lawyers, Dina LaPolt, tells Billboard. “To force well-respected, seasoned artists to retain specific support musicians would strike an unacceptable blow to artistic integrity and we will not stand for it. Eddie is fighting for the rights of all musicians to have the freedom to choose how they want to express themselves.”
The 68-year-old Money also won his recent petition for a protective order to limit the dissemination of information obtained in his and his wife’s depositions, though excerpts of their depositions filed by Symmond’s attorneys last month remain in the public record.
According to one filed excerpt, Money tries to explain to Symmonds’ attorney Lawrance Bohm the “bulleted reasons, like a — you know, the back of an album cover. The songs on the album The Reasons Why I Fired Glenn. Song No. 1: ‘He Was Detrimental to My Wife and Children on Social Media.'” Track No. 2, he says in the deposition, “Is no other reason, really.”
Bohm tells Billboard that these excerpts submitted as evidence “clearly showed implausibilities in the reasons given for the termination of Glenn Symmonds,” adding that a “judge or jury is permitted by law to construe implausibilities as evidence of bad intent or illegal reasons.”
“He’s all over the map” in his explanations, Bohm says, though sources tell Billboard that Money had inadvertently confused the sequence of some events in his deposition.
Bohm tells Billboard he believes Money’s appeal will fail, and the move is likely to prolong the case.
Symmonds, who had played with Money on and off over four decades, sued Money for wrongful termination in October 2015, and his fiancee joined the suit last year, claiming Money sexually harassed her while mocking Symmonds’ disabilities on stage.
The suit alleges that at a 2013 event, Money dedicated “Think I’m in Love” to Symmonds’ wife and while facing her onstage “unzipped his pants, and put his thumb through his zipper (intending his thumb to look like his penis) and began to gyrate his hips and dance while he wiggled his thumb.”
Symmonds also claims he was subjected to “constant ridicule and harassment” because of disabilities stemming from bladder cancer and a back injury.
During the summer of 2015, Eddie Money opted to tour with his musician children instead of his rotating cast of band members, a move that allegedly prompted Symmonds and his wife to bombard Money with angry texts, complain on social media and threaten his concert promoters, according to Money’s team, though Bohm denies these claims.
“Glenn Symmonds showed his true colors: he is a vindictive, ungrateful and awful person. That is why Eddie chose not have him back,” Money’s litigator, Lincoln Bandlow, tells Billboard. “Everything alleged in this lawsuit is a pack of lies.”
In its press release about the suit, Symmonds’ team invoked Money’s songs to make its case: “Money truly has ‘No Control,’ ‘trouble’ has become his adopted middle name, and he’s about to take ‘The Big Crash.’ He’s been running with the devil, losing control everywhere, and is no longer in any position to buy ‘Two Tickets to Paradise.’ Money does not ‘Walk on Water’ — he is no angel, and has made a number of illegal moves he will soon regret. Money should ‘Think Twice’ about what he has done in regards to his relationship with Symmonds and his financé (Tami) Landrum. It’s just a matter of time before he’ll be ‘Shakin’’ and found guilty. But ‘Don’t Worry’ — as Glenn Symmonds knows — you ‘Can’t Keep a Good Man Down.’”