Fear Factory Lawsuit: Details Revealed
Yesterday, Dino Cazares told a fan on social media that “There is no new Fear Factory album.” Which was confusing, because not only has Cazares denied multiple claims by former bassist Christian Olde Wolbers that the band was breaking up, but vocalist Burton C. Bell had previously claimed the new album was complete, turned into the label, and slated for a 2019 release after being delayed for legal reasons.
So what gives?
A decision rendered by Judge John J. Thomas of The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania this past February sheds some light on what may actually be happening behind-the-scenes.
Thomas’ decision is very complicated, which he acknowledges in the first line: “A rather odd sequence of events has created a convoluted scenario which I here address.” But here’s the short version (which is still quite long), at least as I understand it:
In 2011, Bell, Wolbers, and drummer Raymond Herrera “entered into an Agreement of Settlement and Mutual Release as to licensing rights regarding a band known as Fear Factory.” In other words, “Bell and others would be authorized to use the name Fear Factory in exchange for compensation payable to” Herrera and Wolbers. The settlement was made in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
Later that same year, Bell and his wife, the artist Amy Abattoir (née Johnson), filed for bankruptcy in Pennsylvania, and were granted a discharge injunction — meaning creditors couldn’t come after them for money owed. They listed Herrera and Wolbers are creditors in that filing, but neglected to mention the settlement made just months prior. Thus, Herrera and Wolbers stopped receiving payments.
Consequently, Herrera and Wolbers took Bell back to court in California, claiming he was in violation of their agreement. Bell was ultimately ordered to pay more than $900,000 in damages and legal fees. Bell subsequently filed a motion of Motion for Contempt in Pennsylvania, arguing that “the 2014 California lawsuit violated the discharge injunction by attempting to enforce a rejected executory contract.”
Judge Thomas ultimately ruled Counts I, II, and III of the 2014 California lawsuit do, indeed, violate the discharge injunction, but that Counts IV and V do not, “inasmuch as they merely seek damages from Bell and others for using rights that belong to” Herrera and Wolbers. Thomas granted Bell’s Motion for Contempt and set a hearing for March 19, 2019, “to allow [Bell] to establish his damages for violation caused by advancing Counts I, II, and III of the 2014 lawsuit.” Presumably, that hearing did occur, although not with Judge Thomas presiding, because — and this is a freaky coincidence — he died on February 7, the same day he rendered the decision.
As to what happened after that, we have yet to discover. But Thomas’ decision may have been less-than-helpful for the advancement of Fear Factory, as it established that while Bell doesn’t necessary owe Herrera and Wolbers all the money stipulated in 2014, it does establish that he owes them some of the money. This may ultimately be prohibitive with regards to Fear Factory moving forward.
You can read the entire decision here.
Update, October 8, 2:03pm EDT: Since this post was published, Dino Cazares has expressed his feelings on the lawsuit publicly. Also, there has been speculation that Fear Factory might continue under a different band name.