In a decision Tuesday (Jan. 16), a Los Angeles judge ruled that the band should have handed over financial records, operating agreements and other key information earlier — and that Mars was therefore entitled to be repaid the legal bills he spent suing to win access to those files.
“The requests were not burdensome. Yet, Mars was compelled to file suit, and it appears plain that production would not have occurred without it. Mars is entitled to attorney fees,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant wrote in the ruling, which was obtained by Billboard.
Since the band ultimately ended up handing over those files in December, the judge ruled Tuesday that Mars’ court case is now legally moot. But he ruled that the band’s delay had been improper, meaning they owed Mars reimbursement: “These documents should have been produced without the need for prodding by Mars.” The total amount of legal fees will be decided in future proceedings.
The decision is a win for Mars, who claimed in court filings that Mötley Crüe was trying to make sure he “spends as much money as possible” so that he would be “starved out.” But it does not mean he has won his case against the band. The real battle, over whether his bandmates breached their contract by kicking him out, is going to take place in a private arbitration case that remains pending.
The civil war within Crüe first burst into the open in April, when Mars filed his lawsuit claiming he had been unceremoniously terminated by his “brothers of 41 years.” Though technically only seeking access to the band’s records, the lawsuit disclosed for the first time that the two sides were already locked in arbitration proceedings over his exit from the band.
In the complaint, Mars argued the band had moved to illegally deprive him of his 25% ownership stake in the group, a move he claimed came after he made the “tragic announcement” that he could no longer tour due to an arthritic condition called ankylosing spondylitis.
The band quickly responded, saying it “did not owe Mick anything” under existing band agreements and had done nothing wrong. They cited sworn declarations in which numerous touring staffers stated that Mars had repeatedly made serious errors on stage before he exited the band, including suddenly “playing a different song in a middle of another one” and “forgetting chords and songs.”
With that core dispute still unresolved and set to be decided by an arbitrator later this year, both sides portrayed Tuesday’s court ruling as a victory.
The band’s lawyer, Sasha Frid, pointed to the fact the judge declared Mars’ case moot: “The case is over. That’s the key takeaway. By denying the petition as moot and ending the case, the court found that the band turned over all the documents to Mars and there is nothing more to do. The band went above and beyond its obligations by providing much more documents than the statute required.”
Mars’ lawyer Ed McPherson, meanwhile, sharply rejected that interpretation: “If it makes the band feel better to say that they won, that is fine — but they apparently haven’t read the judge’s decision. When the judge says that they failed to produce documents ‘without justification,’ and he orders them to pay Mick’s attorneys’ fees, that does not feel like a win for the band to me!”
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