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Judge Indicates Chris Fehn’s Lawsuit vs. Slipknot Will Proceed

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A judge in the Supreme Court of the State of New York this morning strongly indicated that a motion to dismiss percussionist Chris Fehn’s lawsuit against Slipknot would be denied and the case would be allowed to proceed.

Attorneys for Slipknot and former percussionist Chris Fehn gathered before Justice Melissa Anne Crane, this morning, January 3, to argue motions to dismiss sought by the defendants.

Justice Crane first heard motion six, filed by several Slipknot-related business entities, which sought to dismiss the case brought against them “for failure to state a cause of action.” An excerpt from a brief, filed November 19, reads as follows:

“Plaintiff Christopher Fehn’s (“Fehn”) opposition brief only confirms that Fehn does not have any valid claims or causes of action against the Moving Defendants, or against any of the defendant Slipknot corporate entities for that matter. Fehn’s purported claims, as alleged in Counts 2 and 3 of the FAC, are entirely based upon his claims against the alleged Iowa general partnership (the “Partnership”), of which Fehn claims to be a general partner, and which he alleges ran the business of the Slipknot band. Fehn alleges in the FAC and in his opposition brief that this Partnership subsequently created corporate entities, including Moving Defendants, to carry out the business of the band; however, he fails to articulate any wrongdoing by those entities. In fact, he does not allege any conduct whatsoever by these entities. At most, he alleges that at the Partnership’s direction he performed unspecified services for the Slipknot corporate entities, although he admits that he does not know what work he performed and for what entity. (Opp. Br. at 8). Additionally, Fehn fails to describe any particulars of any implied in fact contract with the Slipknot corporate entities; what services he performed for which entity; how any corporate entity breached any implied agreement or how any corporate entity was unjustly enriched or benefitted in any way from his alleged services. Finally, Fehn’s contention that the business of the Slipknot band was conducted through the Partnership defeats his claims against the Slipknot corporate entities because a partnership may not conduct its business in a corporate form. For all these reasons and as further discussed below, Counts 2 and 3 of the FAC should be dismissed.”

Justice Crane began by pressing Fehn’s attorney, Joseph Dunne, on the relationship between the Slipknot partnership and related corporate entities to determine the nature of Fehn’s involvement. Melissa A. Salimbene, an attorney for the defense, argued that there was no partnership, implied or otherwise, between Slipknot and Fehn, while Dunne retorted that whether or not Fehn was included in that partnership, the partnership’s business became the domain of those corporations once they were formed. Crane ultimately sided with the plaintiff’s argument, stating, “My initial reaction is that it’s a valid theory in the alternative. It may not be articulated in the way I’m most familiar with but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Deny motion to dismiss. The partnership became the New York entities, like successor liability in an asset purchase.” She added, “I need to see it [further]. It may be enough. It’s not whether the plaintiff stated a [particular] cause of action but whether they have a cause of action. It stays.”

On motion five, filed by Michael Shawn “Clown” Crahan, Corey Taylor and several Slipknot-related corporations registered outside of New York, which sought dismissal “for lack of personal jurisdiction” (claiming that New York courts do not have the power to adjudicate a case against them), Justice Crane also indicated the motion to dismiss would be denied. Salimbene, the attorney for the defendants, argued that Crahan and Taylor “have no contacts in New York, they’re Iowa guys, Slipknot are an Iowa band, they don’t work in or come to New York [except occasionally for touring], and they don’t transact business in New York.” She later added that only the mailing address for the band’s business was located in New York, and that “listing a mailing address is not sufficient for general jurisdiction. Rob Shore is an agent of the business acting on behalf of an Iowa business and with direction from Crahan and Taylor,” referring to Rob Shore & Associates, the band’s former business manager.

Dunne responded with the argument that all of the band’s business affairs, handled by Rob Shore & Associates, were conducted in New York, therefore the state is the appropriate jurisdiction for the case to be heard. “The only address we could find was the Madison Avenue New York address. The defendants all list their principal place of business and only place of business as New York. It’s the only place, there’s nothing else. These corporations are at home in New York. All of the invoices and checks probably went to New York. All the documents, records and business records are most likely sitting here in New York. To have the suit spread out over multiple states because one corporation is in Iowa, one is in California, one is in New York [would be onerous].”

Justice Crane did not indicate from the bench whether motion five would be denied or granted, but in a conference after the hearing the judge discussed details for document discovery, indicating the case will move forward. No date was set for any further hearings, but a scheduled compliance conference date of June 18 indicates it will be several months before there is any significant movement in this case.

In November of last year, Justice Crane granted the motion to dismiss sought by Rob Shore but allowed the case against his company, Rob Shore & Associates, to proceed. Shore’s legal counsel, Andrew Siegel, was also present for today’s hearing.

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