Trauma Records was once home to artists including No Doubt and Bush. It even released Shaquille O’Neal‘s hip-hop albums. But following a litigious split with Interscope in 1997, the label folded.
Years later, its ties with Interscope would lead to efforts to reboot the label with the backing of film production company Radar Pictures. Interscope founder and media mogul Frederick “Ted” Field founded Radar, which has credits including The Last Samurai and Spring Breakers. In 2012 he teamed with Trauma co-founder Rob Kahane to launch Trauma 2 Records.
On Friday, the companies and Field were hit with their second lawsuit from producer Johnny Lin‘s Filmula. Both concern the $1.5 million Lin invested in Trauma 2 when the label was starting out.
Filmula had seen festival success with Hesher, the Natalie Portman/Joseph Gordon-Levitt drama about a sociopathic headbanger that was nominated for Sundance’s grand jury prize in 2010. It ramped up operations the following year with a Taiwan home distribution deal for Miramax titles like Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting.
In the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Friday (read it here), Lin claims Field and Trauma 2 COO Thomas van Dell and director of business and legal affairs Jason Smith “pressured” him to invest $1.5 million for 15 percent ownership of the label. He says he didn’t have time to conduct due diligence on the promises he claims the label made him, including that he wasn’t the only investor, he would recoup his entire investment by receiving 25 percent of Trauma’s grosses and he’d join the label’s board of directors.
Trauma 2 didn’t hold up its end of the deal, Lin claims. He says it failed to return the investment and never appointed him to the board because there “is no Board of Directors of Trauma and there never has been a Board of Directors.”
Filmula sued in May 2014.
The case settled in November with Trauma 2 agreeing to return the $1.5 million investment and then some (the total came to $1,773,048). Then according to the new lawsuit, pretty much the same thing started happening.
Lin was to receive the settlement in monthly $100,000 increments, specifies the complaint. He received the first payment over a month late, he claims, on Jan. 22. He says he still hasn’t received the second payment, which the label’s counsel allegedly said would come on March 1.
He is suing Trauma and Radar for fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of contract (for allegedly violating the settlement agreement) and negligent misrepresentation. Jeremiah Reynolds of Kinsella Weitzman filed the complaint.
Van Dell tells The Hollywood Reporter, “Disputes arise between business partners on occasion and as is always the case, there are two sides to every story. The suit naming the top two executives at the company in the suit personally is both shameless and an expected legal strategy.”
Mar. 17, 10:18 a.m. Updated with comment from van Dell.