Burna Boy U.S. concert legal drama: There is NO New York Supreme Court injunction against artist (AML Exclusive)

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I received the press statement below that has since gone viral claiming the New York Supreme Court slammed Burna Boy with a court injunction. I took a look at the statement, checked court records, and also asked the party who sent the statement to forward me a copy of the New York Supreme court ruling which they did. I also conducted further research. A review of all of my evidence and the court documents show there IS NO court injunction against Burna Boy by the New York Supreme Court or any court, so far, in the United States. Therefore, this statement is false.

Here is a snapshot of the procedural history of the case and supporting documents that show the press statement is false and at a minimum, very misleading:

Location: New York
Court: Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Kings
Plaintiff: Vibesland Entertainment LLC (Plaintiff)
Defendants: Burna Boy Ltd., Damini Ogulu aka Burna Boy, Bose Abodosede Ogulu, W&R Projects, LLC, BIG A Entertainment, Spotlite Entertainment, Aristocrat Inc., Nzuri Entertainment Center, Pryme Inc., & The Howard Theatre.

The Procedural History (i.e. the way the case has traveled through the court system)
The case was first filed on May 5, 2017, in federal court by Promoter Niyi Fatogun’s company Vibesland Entertainment LLC, through his attorney Lydia Hills, seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop Burna Boy from performing at a May 6, 2017,  concert at the Playstaion Theater  in New York procured through AEG via W&R Projects, LLC. Not all defendants in the current state case were named in the federal filing. The federal judge who heard the case in the Eastern District of New York, essentially said, “sorry I can’t help you for two reasons.” 

First, I don’t have the power to hear this case because I do not have “subject matter jurisdiction”  i.e. this is not the kinds of cases I can hear under the law. It’s a contract case and belongs in state court, not federal court. Second, you are late in bringing such a request for a TRO  to me on the eve of when Burna Boy is to perform in New York at Playstation. Your client, Niyi Fatogun through Vibesland Entertainment LLC, had over a month notice that Burna Boy would perform at this event. He should have done something about it. He didn’t. There is no emergency, your client will not “suffer irreparable harm,” one of the key criteria you have to show for the injunction you seek. Your client has a remedy available to him. He can sue for money damages on the contract in state court. I am particularly not pleased that you would walk into my courtroom and pull this move the eve before. Don’t do that because I don’t like that. I am dismissing the matter.

“At the outset, the Court notes disapprovingly that Plaintiff filed this request on the eve of the PlayStation Concert when its Chief Executive Officer knew, as early as the end of March 2017, that Burna Boy would be performing at this event in early May. This application could have, and should have, been filed at that time. The Court takes a dim view of such tactical, eleventh hour ploys. However, this calculated decision does not serve Plaintiff’s application; the Court cannot reach the merits of Plaintiff’s request because it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the underlying dispute…”

“…For the reasons stated above, the matter is dismissed, without prejudice to refile in the proper forum, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. While this Court is skeptical of the merits of the application, it is for the appropriate jurisdiction to decide whether or not the show must go on. SO ORDERED. Dated: Brooklyn, New York.”

The federal judge kicks the case out of federal court. Burna Boy is happy. He shares the news and performs on May 6, 2017. On or about a week later, Ms. Hills files a similar application in state court, the New York Supreme Court,  to stop Burna Boy from performing in all his planned upcoming shows in DC, Dallas etc. The state court judge denies this request. But the judge says you can come back May 31, 2017, and I will hear you make the argument for why I should give you a preliminary injunction stopping Burna Boy from performing in future shows in the U.S. that he has planned. In the meantime, the show continues. This means the Anderson Obiagwu owned Big A Entertainment Dallas show, and the DC show continues.

However, on May 18, 2017, Vibesland Entertaiment LLC, through its representative, Quemedia, sent a press statement saying the court slammed Burna Boy with an injunction. The statement also said that the company hired attorney Tekena Baronga, on May 17, 2017, who it appears was the one that went to the hearing in state court to secure the injunction.

It is unclear who the attorney who appeared at the state court hearing is. However, what is clear is that the state court judge denied the request for an injunction, and crossed out the explicit language that would have granted the injunction. So, I am unsure why Vibesland Entertainment LLC, through its publicity team, would send such an inaccurate statement that has since gone viral. I do not think, however, that it is intentional. The African entertainment media and journalists have a long way to go in understanding and reporting court cases. It is, however, still not an excuse for sharing wrong information so boldly.

Folks, there are levels to this public relations game. When a lawsuit is involved, talk to your lawyers and have your lawyers screen everything before it goes out. Otherwise, you could be faced with more legal troubles including claims filed against you for defamation (libel) when you publish false stories.

As to the federal court’s ruling,  I agree with the court’s position on the timeliness of the filing. It is a fair point. I, however, completely disagree with the judge on the jurisdiction issue. The same court, around this time last year, heard a parallel set of facts in the case of Eric Many Ltd. vs. Runtown. The same lawyer sued Runtown, one of Nigeria/Africa’s biggest pop artist, to stop him from performing in the U.S. because doing so would breach his contract in Nigeria with EricMany Ltd., his record label. The contract Runtown signed with EricMany Ltd. said Nigerian law applied in the event of a dispute. The defendant(s) in that case included Niyi Fatogun and his company Vibesland Entertainment, LLC, who EricMany Ltd. wanted to stop from letting Runtown perform at Niyi’s event. YET, a federal judge listened to the case, did not even question the subject matter jurisdiction and issued a temporary restraining order against Runtown.

Your takeaway is that the issue of subject matter jurisdiction in intellectual property cases, especially copyright and patent cases, is a dicey one and depending on the judge, you could be sent to state court to file if you are the person seeking a TRO, or if you are in state court, you could be sent to federal court to file.

Check out the documents, the false press statement and if you are a blogger or media house who published the story as the truth, you should modify your headlines to include “allegedly” or “reportedly” because the press statement is simply false.

I’ll discuss the merits (i.e. the contract palava) of the case next week.

-Ms. Uduak

[scribd id=348831728 key=key-LPFJdbxfBUeYT0Zzso8p mode=scroll] [scribd id=348831723 key=key-gjJSj0l8G5cgBanub79o mode=scroll] [scribd id=348831696 key=key-4lIbVWLLBCA898ETwt1N mode=scroll]

From Vibesland Entertainment LLC
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READ THE INACCURATE PRESS STATEMENT AS TO THE INJUNCTION GRANTED

BURNA BOY SLAMS WITH COURT INJUNCTION IN NEW YORK SUPREME COURT ( EXCLUSIVE PRESS RELEASE)

TRUE STORY HAPPENING LIVE NOW IN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. BURNA BOY SLAMS WITH COURT INJUNCTION IN NEW YORK SUPREME COURT (PRESS RELEASE)

A U,S Supreme Federal Court in New York, USA has slammed an injunction against the superstar musical artist Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu popularly known as “Burna Boy”. The injunction prevents him from performing at any event venue or any form of recording any where in USA & CANADA for the time being unless settle with the New York based promotion company Vibesland Entertainment, LLC founded by Promoter/Producer Niyi Fatogun.

Damini Ogulu, better known by his stage name Burna Boy, is a Nigerian reggae-dancehall singer and songwriter. Burna Boy is an independent artist signed under the Burna Boy Ltd and released his OAS LP under Spaceship Entertainment label that presently holds the copyright to all his music. He was sued in the Federal Court by Vibesland Entertainment, LLC on allegations that he signed a contract for 2016 USA & CANADA TOUR, failed to turn up, postposned the tour which put the promoter Vibesland Entertainment, LLC in serious debt in USA.

Vibesland Entertainment, LLC was said to have invested up to $25,000 US Dollars in preparation and facilitating burna boy postponed USA & CANADA. The issue started after the promoter Vibesland Entertainment, LLC obtained USA Work Permit approval visa for Burna Boy, then Burna Boy failed to honor the contractual agreement.

In addition, Burna boy’s management invited the promoter to London from New York in order to try to facilitate the tour and discuss in person, the promoter traveled to London at the promoter’s expense to meet up with Burna Boy’s management all to no avail. Burna Boy tour was postponed by his management, regardless of all the efforts made by the promoter. Due to (failure to show up as planned and fulfilling his contractual agreement), and postponed tour, promoter’s reputation was badly damaged to the extent of being publicly embarrassed/humiliated on social media by other fellow promoters.

Our source learnt that the promoter tried all efforts to communicate via email, text, and phone calls Burna Boy’s Management for 5 months consecutively, Burna Boy’s Management deliberately ignored the promoter, refused to answer or return his calls and emails. All efforts in trying to get this issue resolved amicably were to no avail. 

Burna Boy’s Managment claims were the Promoter didn’t pay the deposit as stated in the contract between VIBESLAND ENTERTAINMENT, LLC & BURNA BOY LTD. Promoter who’s the official tour agent for the 2016 Burna Boy USA & CANADA Tour travelled to London, England with a cheque of $75,000.00 to meet Burna Boy’s Managment for deposit of 10 cities. The promoter said when he got to London, United Kingdom, Burna Boy’s Managment brought up discussion of a third party company (AEG) which wasn’t part of the initial contract signed on June 29th, 2016. VIBESLAND ENTERTAINMENT, LLC believed it was very risky to pay $75,000 dollars deposit to Burna Boy’s Managment that’s already declared they signed a contract with a third party for the same USA tour. At that point the promoter refused to release the payment (cheque) until everything is straightforward to avoid losing $75,000. As at the time of this press release. Promoter stated, “Why would I give a cheque deposit for 10 cities worth $75,000 to BURNA BOY LTD when I was told that a third party company (AEG) already took five (5) major cities out of 10 cities agreed in the contract.

Promoter Niyi Fatogun hired professional entertainment lawyer Takena Barango to represent VIBESLAND ENTERTAINMENT, LLC on Wednesday MAY 17th, 2017 at the Supreme Court in New York, The Judge ordered a court Injunction on BURNA BOY OUTSIDE US TOUR, until BURNA BOY LTD settle promoter for the financial loss VIBESLAND ENTERTAINMENT, LLC suffered due to breach of contract by BURNA BOY.

Witnesses comments that Burna Boy’s Management failed to properly handle this matter, they disregard the contractual agreement with the promoter Vibesland Entertainment, LLC and showed no respect in responding to all his requests. How could you ignore someone’s phone calls and email for 5 months consecutively one witness said. This is America where entertainment law is very effective, a contract is a biding agreement, you can’t sign a contract and deliberately breach the contract. That sort of anomalies occurs frequently in Africa but not over here in United States….another witness explained. EXCLUSIVELY FROM QUEVIEW MEDIA…..

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