Slipknot vs. Chris Fehn Lawsuit Has Gone to Mediation for a Settlement
Updates on the lawsuits filed against Slipknot by former percussionist Chris Fehn have been difficult to come by since the pandemic relegated all court proceedings to remote teleconferences, but MetalSucks has uncovered a series of new developments since our last update in January of this year.
To recap: in March of 2019, Fehn filed a series of suits against several Slipknot-related business entities as well as Corey Taylor and Shawn Crahan individually, alleging that the band had several entities dispersed between a handful of states which he did not known about, and they were using those entities to siphon money away from him. Fehn claimed that Slipknot were an equal partnership, and that he was due a commensurate portion of the band’s income but had recently been treated like a hired employee (which the band’s business manager then said he essentially was).
In an editorial penned that same month, I posited that eventually the case would head to mediation, a process led by an unbiased, third-party arbiter whereby a monetary settlement is reached between both parties. New court documents reveal that is exactly what is happening a year and a half later. Mediation is less time-consuming and less expensive than taking a case to trial, which often makes it a preferred option over a full-fledged court battle.
In a document filed on June 18 and signed by Justice Melissa Anne Crane, who has been overseeing the proceedings, the case was ordered to be referred to a mediator:
“This case having come before the court on May 15, 2020, and the court having determined that it is appropriate and the parties would benefit from an opportunity to participate in mediation, the parties and counsel are directed to appear for mediation and therefore, it is ORDERED, that the matter is hereby referred to Deborah Edelman, Esq, Special Referee, of New York County Supreme Court (“Mediator”), and it is further
ORDERED, that counsel are directed to contact Ms. Edelman either via [email] or [phone] within three business days of the date of this order;”
Unfortunately for inquisitive Slipknot fans and MetalSucks’ investigative interest in this case alike, when a case goes to mediation the details of the settlement are not made public. Lest there be any doubt on that matter, it says as much right in the court order:
“ORDERED, that any oral, written or other communications made during the course of the Mediation by any party, Mediator or any other person present shall be confidential, and shall not be disclosed in any present or future judicial or administrative proceeding as pursuant to CPLR § 4547;”
Reaching a settlement is voluntary and must be agreed to by both parties, so the possibility remains that one will not be reached and the case will be punted back to court. But that seems unlikely given the parties’ willingness to engage in mediation to begin with, as well as the aforementioned time and expense toll of a full-fledged trial.
As such, save for vague future proclamations in the press by Fehn, Taylor, Clown or any other involved parties about how thankful they are to have their legal battles behind them — or whatever they choose to say about it, if anything, once that happens — the shift to mediation effectively ends the public’s knowledge of the case, and hence, the media’s coverage of it. Barring any major press gaffes by involved parties, of course, and any administrative updates.
So, sorry to say it, Slipknot fans: you’re never gonna know how much money Slipknot pay Chris Fehn to shut up and go away. But you can bet it’ll be a handsome amount.
For those keeping score, there is one other development of note: motion six — in which Fehn claimed that an equal partnership contract between he and the other members of Slipknot was implied even though it was never formally written, and in which he sought remuneration for “unjust enrichment” by the other parties — has been dismissed. That being the case, the amount of the eventual settlement will likely be lower than had motion six not been dismissed.
A court document obtained by MetalSucks on the dismissal of motion six reads:
“The court dismisses the claim for breach of implied in fact contract. To plead a claim for implied in fact contract, a plaintiff must plead the essential terms of a contract: offer, acceptance and consideration (see Lapine v Seinfeld, 31 Misc3d 736, 741 [Sup. Ct. New York County 2011]). Here, the allegations supporting implied in fact contract are wholly conclusory. Plaintiff fails to plead any essential term of the contract, any specific provisions breached or any rate of compensation.
“In addition, the court dismisses the unjust enrichment claim, because plaintiff fails to plead how the New York defendants were enriched at plaintiff’s expense. Moreover, all plaintiff claims is that “Crahan, as an agent of the corporate Defendants, requested Fehn perform a variety of services for the partnership and for each of the respective corporate entities.” This begs the question what those services were. Certainly, the services plaintiff provided are within plaintiff’s purview. Accordingly, the court dismisses counts II and III of the complaint without prejudice to re-pleading.”
A teleconference between lawyers for both parties and Justice Crane is scheduled for October 29.