Although Hey Monday vocalist Cassadee Pope is only five weeks shy of her 22nd birthday, she’s racked up more legal trouble than most people see in a lifetime. We recently reported on the $50 million lawsuit filed by her managers for six years, Driven Entertainment Group, and have since discussed the proceedings with both sides.
As it turns out, Pope filed a civil suit back in April of 2008 with the help of Miami lawyer Richard Wolfe to exit the contract she signed with Driven’s Dominick and Tammi Centi and to dissolve her band Blake. The lawsuit argues that the contract was invalid because the Centis were not licensed and that the contract was not court-approved. These are claims vehemently denied by the Centis’ current lawyer, Peter Ticktin, and that suit is still pending.
As for the current legal brouhaha, we decided to gather why this is happening now and spoke to both sides.
In 2008, Cassadee Pope sued Driven Productions to declare the management contract between them invalid. Driven Productions secured a long-term contract from Ms. Pope that violated Florida state law and the Centis compounded that misconduct by failing to obtain court approval of any lawful relationship with her. That lawsuit is still pending before the Broward court with dispositive motions on file. This new lawsuit is redundant and an attempt by the Centis to get headlines by suing innocent third parties.
He did, however, add that another one of his clients, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino fromJersey Shore, was also sued for dissolving a relationship with his manager on the very same day. “Sorry, Charlie, he didn’t have a license either,” Wolfe said.
As for the Centis, Deerfield Beach-based Ticktin was quite eager to discuss the matter. Regarding the timing of this current suit: “We wanted to wait as long as possible for a couple of reasons. One was that Cassadee Pope was just starting out four years ago with Columbia Records. We thought that if we filed the lawsuit at that time that it could cause her career to get ruined. That wouldn’t have done any good for her or us. It made sense for us to wait to see if she had an opportunity to prosper.”
Regarding the $50 million in damages: “This is being filed to fix the industry. We are letting Sony know that if they conduct themselves in this way, they’re going to pay huge amounts. Anyone who Sony decides to hurt, they have no conscience, and they will hurt.”
Centi added these remarks:
We managed Cassadee for 6 years up until we negotiated the Columbia contract with both Columbia’s attorney and Cassadee’s attorney in late 2007. At that same time, at age 18, Cassadee signed a management agreement with us, extending the agreement to 5 more years. Things were progressing, as they always did each year prior. We always saw advancement year after year and 2007 brought us a quantum leap.
Here is the full reply from the Centis’ lawyer, Ticktin:
It makes no difference that Driven was not licensed as a talent agent at the time that Driven or the Centis signed Cassadee Pope.
It is true that it is not permissible to act as a talent agent for more than one act unless one is licensed. However, it is not true that the Centis or Driven had more than one act. I think that Mr. Wolfe is confusing the idea of representing more than one person with more than one “act.” Blake was a band that was part of the same act, as Cassadee was part of the band. In fact, the band was named “Blake,” which is Cassadee’s middle name.
Wolf also claims the contract that was signed with Cassadee was not court-approved. This is simply not relevant. There was no need for any such approval. It is what lawyers call a “Red Herring.”
Originally, Cassadee and her parents signed as she was under 18 years of age. In 2007, when Cassadee was already 18, she re-signed with Driven Entertainment Group.
In any event, just in case there is any confusion as to the interference with the contractual relationship, there can be no question that these officious interlopers, on behalf of Columbia Records/Sony, interfered with the “advantageous business relationship” between the Centis and Cassadee. The wrong that they committed is egregious, and is going to be redressed. It is going to take more than the sharp tactics of a top notch lawyer who is great at splitting hairs to get these giant exploiters off the proverbial hook.
In fact, I understand that this type of underhanded client stealing is rampant in the music business. It is time that the industry learn that it will be costly to act unconscionably.
In spite of the legal action, both Ticktin and Dominick Centi were quick to note that Cassadee Pope is a “talent” and that much of the blame for this legal action falls upon her record label, as well as Sony’s Jay Harren, and Ozone’s Brett Disend, who, according to court documents, “told [Pope] that if she wanted to get her record deal with Sony, that she needed to leave the Centis behind completely, and terminate the agreement.” Lori Pope, Cassadee’s mother, is also named in the suit.
In spite of his own stake in the legal proceedings, Centi acknowledges that the average Hey Monday fan isn’t likely to care about this lawsuit at all. “We expect her fans to only appreciate her talent, just as we do,” he says. “I can very easily remember being a young music fan. All that mattered was the artist and their music. We hope her fans continue to enjoy her music and shows and that the already strong bond between Cassadee and her fans continues to grow stronger.”