Read the Ill Niño Lawsuit

  • Axl Rosenberg

In January, we learned that New Jersey nu-metal band Ill Niño has now split into two factions embroiled in a legal battle, with each claiming ownership of the band’s name: one consisting of longtime members Dave Chavarri (drums), Lazaro Pina (bass), and Daniel Couto (percussion) along with with new singer Marcos Leal (Shattered Sun) and new guitarists Jess Dehoyos (Sons of Texas) and Sal Dominguez (ex-Upon a Burning Body), and one consisting of original singer Cristian Machado and guitarists Ahrue Luster and Diego Verduzco. We didn’t actually know a whole lot of specifics regarding the disagreement, other than there seemed to be a lot of conflict over who owned the trademark on the Ill Niño brand.

We now know a whole lot more. MetalSucks has obtained a copy of the 53-page complaint filed by Machado, Luster, and Verduzco against Chavarri and Pina (interestingly, Couto is not named in the lawsuit). As is often the case with American legal matters, the details of the dispute are kinda complicated, but the short version is this: Machado, Luster, and Verduzco allege that Chavarri, while acting as the band’s manager, engaged in a lot of shady business dealings. These include:

  • Failing to pay “several third parties,” ranging from a tour bus rental company and tour bus driver to their merch printing service to the band’s recording engineer and sound mixer.
  • Keeping some or all of the money bands like Sunflower Dead and Xtortya paid in exchange for opening slots on Ill Niño tours (a practice known as “buying on”).
  • Using his status as Ill Niño’s manager to pressure those bands that had bought onto tours to pay for his personal expenses.
  • Using his status as Ill Niño’s manager to convert a lucrative offer to sign with Minus Head Records into a deal for his other band, Terror Universal, instead.
  • Using his status as Ill Niño’s manager to scam the band into taking a financial loss while repaying a personal loan for himself.
  • Collecting and/or spending band revenues without the other members’ knowledge or consent.
  • Pocketing show guarantees and tour advances for himself, sometimes even cancelling tours and then refusing to return the promoter’s advance.
  • Falsifying financial documents in order to keep tens of thousands of dollars for himself.
  • Refusing the band members their legally owed access to financial records.

They also claim that Chavarri considered, but ultimately rejected, a buyout offer before illegally and unilaterally attempting to fire his bandmates.

The suit further alleges that both Chavarri and Pina slandered the band, falsely telling people in the industry — including Testament’s Chuck Billy, who manages Marcos Leal — that Machado has a drug problem.

Machado, Luster, and Verduzco are seeking to both oust Chavarri from the band once and for all and receive “damages to be determined according to proof at trial” (that is, an amount of money to be specified in court).

The complaint includes several exhibits, all of which, of course, are intended to prove their claims against Chavarri and Pina.

You can review the complaint for yourself here.

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