TED NUGENT Festival Lawsuit Headed To Trial

John S. Hausman of the Muskegon Chronicle is reporting that Ted Nugent's lawsuit against Muskegon Summer Celebration for canceling his scheduled June 2003 concert will go to trial, barring a settlement between the parties.

Muskegon County Circuit Judge Timothy G. Hicks on Tuesday rejected Summer Celebration's "motion for summary disposition" asking the judge to throw out Nugent's main claim — breach of contract.

Hicks' ruling makes it near-certain the self-styled "Motor City Madman" will appear in Muskegon, at least for a pretrial settlement conference, if not an actual trial.

Settlement conferences typically require the parties to a lawsuit to be physically present, along with the lawyers and the judge. Hicks earlier refused to let Nugent participate by telephone — unless the rocker agreed to limit his damage request to $250,000, a limit Nugent's lawyer declined to accept. The conference had been scheduled for March 11, but it will be rescheduled because Nugent was to be at a concert out of state that day.

In a written opinion dated Tuesday, Hicks rejected defense arguments that Nugent's breach-of-contract claim is so baseless that it shouldn't proceed to trial. However, the judge noted that he was not expressing an opinion about which side should win the case.

"Motions such as this (for summary disposition) are, in a general sense, a screen to filter out lawsuits with fatal flaws of one kind or another," Hicks wrote. "Plaintiff's claim survives this test, but these decisions do not necessarily portend who ultimately prevails."

Nugent in 2003 sued Muskegon's summer festival and its leading officials for canceling the concert after a controversy arose over news reports about racial remarks Nugent allegedly made in a Denver radio interview May 5, 2003. The case started in federal court, was refiled later in state court in Nugent's own Jackson County, then landed in Muskegon County last August after a Jackson judge ordered it moved.

Nugent's lawsuit claims Summer Celebration canceled his concert May 16, 2003, "without any notice, or contractual justification." The lawsuit accuses the festival of breach of contract; economically damaging Nugent by disrupting his planned 2003 concert tour season; "unfair competition" by allegedly continuing to promote Nugent's concert on Summer Celebration's Web site after the cancellation; and "unjust enrichment" — profiting from wrongful acts. Read more.

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