Nuge’s Day In Court

Ted Nugent is back on his old Michigan stomping grounds after moving to Crawford, Texas, last year – not for a relaxing weekend of bow hunting, but to attend the trial of the civil suit he filed against the Muskegon Summer Celebration for canceling a concert in June 2003.

The jury was selected, lawyers gave their opening statements and the first witnesses testified March 22nd in Muskegon County Circuit Court.

It had been reported that Nugent made racial slurs regarding African-Americans and Asians during a live interview on a Denver radio station. Slander and libel claims against the festival have already been dismissed.

Adam Kornfeld, Nugent’s agent and a founder of Artist Group International, was the first witness to testify.

He told the jury that after a press release was issued by the festival citing Nugent’s alleged use of potentially offensive racial terms, “the phones died,” the Muskegon Chronicle reported. “It seemed like Ted was a pariah.”

Kornfeld also testified that bookings dropped off dramatically.

“It became all of a sudden very, very difficult if not impossible” to book shows for the 2004 season, Kornfeld said, adding that it was the first time in 21 years as Nugent’s agent that the star couldn’t get the concert dates he wanted.

Court papers indicate Nugent expected to receive $80,000 to perform at the Summer Celebration. Festival lawyers have argued that no contract had been signed at the time the concert was canceled.

The lawsuit claims that accusations made by festival officials and others, along with the concert’s cancellation, damaged the Motor City Madman’s reputation and career.

Nugent caused a stir before the trial even started when he appeared at the Muskegon courthouse March 18th for a pretrial settlement conference. Settlement talks were unsuccessful, making the trial inevitable.

“We didn’t order a controversy; we ordered a concert,” the festival’s Tim Achterhoff told the Chronicle.

Achterhoff was chairman of the Summer Celebration in 2003 and is now president of the festival’s board.

“I’d rather be fishin’. I love America … there’s hope,” Nugent told reporters outside the courthouse just before jury selection began, according to WOOD-TV.

Fans of the Motor City Madman apparently weren’t sympathetic to the festival’s position.

“I watch [Nugent’s] hunting program on TV,” one fan told the Chronicle. “They (the Muskegon Summer Celebration) should have given him a chance about the slur he made.”

Nugent’s trial was expected to last through at least March 30th.