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Snoop Dogg is one step closer to trial with Pabst Brewing Co. after a California judge on Monday declined to drop the rapper’s lawsuit against the beverage company like it’s hot.
Snoop sued in 2015, claiming Pabst breached their endorsement deal when the company was sold and it didn’t pay him the contractually agreed-upon 10 percent.
“It’s maddening,” judge Malcom H. Mackey said of the case in a Monday hearing, telling attorneys “you gentlemen have conjured up a lot of facts on this case.”
Mackey denied Pabst’s motion for summary judgment in its entirety, find the conflicting facts that have been presented raised too many questions for him to rule as a matter of law.
In 2011, Snoop signed on to be the face of Blast by Colt 45, a brightly colored, fruity spinoff of the classic malt beverage. In addition to standard fees and royalties, his contract contained a phantom equity clause that entitled him to a portion of the profits if the brand was sold before January 2016.
In 2014, the brewer’s grandparent company, Pabst Corporate Holdings, sold to a third party all of its stock in Pabst Holdings Inc., which is the sole shareholder of Pabst Brewing. The dispute centers on whether that sale triggered the phantom equity clause.
Snoop’s attorney Alex Weingarten says the case is “lousy with evidence” that Snoop was shorted, and says even the company’s former owner, billionaire C. Dean Metropoulos, admitted in a deposition that the sale would have triggered the clause.
Pabst argues that the sale merely transferred control of the brand, not ownership, and that isn’t covered by Snoop’s deal.
“That transaction did not result in the sale of ‘the Blast by Colt 45 brand or the entire Colt 45 brand family,'” writes Pabst attorney Robert Dugdale in the motion for summary judgment. “PBC owns these brands in their entirety to this day.”
In his opposition to the motion, Weingarten called that argument “nonsense” and said it’s further evidence that the company “structured the sale of Pabst in an effort to intentionally frustrate Plaintiffs’ rights through a sham alter ego holding company structure.”
During the Monday hearing, Dugdale argued it “would have been ridiculous” to specifically structure a complex nine-figure deal just to avoid paying Snoop his equity. (Read his full argument against the “sham” here.)
Mackey nearly dismissed Snoop’s claim for conversion, which the judge described as a “nice way of saying theft,” but ultimately decided to allow the claims to proceed.
“Pabst is trying to pull a fast one and argue that even though they sold this company for close to $700 million, they didn’t really sell the company,” Weingarten tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It is preposterous and just like the Judge saw through this nonsense today, we are confident that a jury will agree at our upcoming trial.”
Trial is currently set for October.
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