7:52am PT by Eriq Gardner
LMFAO Takes Ex-Manager to the California Labor Commissioner (Exclusive)
At a trial starting on Monday, LMFAO will be shouting "TAA" at RPMGRP.
LMFAO is the Los Angeles-based electronic pop duo of Stefan Kendal Gordy (RedFoo) and Skyler Austen Gordy (SkyBlu). RPMGRP is the chart-topping duo's former management firm run by Rene McLean. And the "TAA" stands for the Talent Agencies Act, the first gauntlet that RPMGRP faces in hopes of collecting $7 million of money allegedly owed from LMFAO.
The coming trial emanates from a March, 2012 lawsuit filed in LA Superior Court. After LMFAO was sued and served papers when they arrived to perform on American Idol, the Gordys took a step common among artists in this position: LMFAO filed a petition at the California Labor Commissioner to deem McLean as violating the California law that says only licensed talent agents can procure employment for clients.
As a result of the petition, the LA Superior Court case has been stayed by a judge.
In that lawsuit, RPMGRP said after LMFAO skyrocketed towards success, the electronic duo "thanked their managers who took them 'from 0 to 60' by throwing them under the tour bus (i.e. firing them). Instead of hiring new managers, LMFAO then poached two employees of the original managers, hiring them on a salary instead of paying a commission to the original managers."
Here's the full lawsuit that claims breaches of written and oral contracts, quantum meruit, tortious interference and accounting.
RPMGRP says it is entitled to damages in excess of $7 million, but will likely only be able to pursue this money if the Personal Management Agreement that was signed in March, 2008 survives scrutiny.
According to a petition filed by Gordy and Gordy in May, 2012, "This case presents exactly the kind of situation that the Talent Agencies Act absolutely forbids: a purported artist manager openly operating as an unlicensed talent agency."
Specifically, the musicians say that McLean procured employment for them including performing for a Pepsi marketing campaign and multiple performances at clubs and private parties in New York and Los Angeles.
At next week's trial, LMFAO will seek to have their agreement with McLean declared "void and unenforceable." Here's the full petition.
In an answer filed at the California Labor Commissioner, McLean has denied the allegations and also asserted that LMFAO knew about everything he was doing on the group's behalf. He's asserting various affirmative defenses. In addition, McLean says that even if he violated the TAA, "the violations do not support termination of the Management Agreement in its entirety because of the overwhelming amount of permissible work RPM did as the Gordys' manager."
LMFAO will be represented by attorney Ed McPherson. McLean will be represented by William Hochberg.
E-mail: [email protected]; Twitter: @eriqgardner