Great White Lawsuit Wrapped

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge recently tossed out a case against a former associate of Great White. The band’s singer, Jack Russell, and band manager Obi Steinman claimed the defendant had falsely suggested Russell et al were siphoning charity money from a Great White tour.

The ’80s rock band was onstage at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., when the small club caught fire in February 2003. The result was 100 dead and about 200 more injured in the biggest tragedy in the history of rock concerts. Several indictments have been handed down against those involved including the band’s tour manager at the time, Dan Biechele, who launched the pyrotechnics that started the blaze.

The lawsuit was filed against Charrie Foglio, a former employee of KISS manager Doc McGhee. Russell and Great White decided in late 2003 to tour 41 shows to benefit victims’ families, giving profits to the Station Family Fund. Foglio claims she was contacted by Russell to be day-to-day manager for the tour, and she reached out to Steinman for help.

But things fell apart and ended up in court, with Russell and Steinman claiming Foglio was spreading lies that the band was taking profits from the tour that should have gone to the Fund.

They further alleged she was only a publicist who, when faced with getting fired, threatened to go public with a made-up story.

Foglio told Pollstar there was an agreement that each show would have a generous $5,000 expense cap and all money above that would go to the Fund.

“In total, we earned $35,000 for four shows (in August 2003),” she said. “According to our deal, we’d get $20,000 and the charity would get $15,000. Well, the charity got $8,000 and the other $7,000 never showed up. … I said to our tour manager, ‘Did we have any major problems? Did a dinosaur eat the bus?'”

Foglio said she got a “song and a dance” from Russell and Steinman, then called the Fund and told them, “I believe what you think happened, happened,” then quit. She said she only told the Fund of the alleged issue and kept quiet beyond that.

Last year, Great White filed suit against Foglio, claiming she was telling the press of the alleged indiscretion. At the time, attorney Ed McPherson told Pollstar the $10 million lawsuit was basically to stop her from repeating her story. Foglio claims the suit was about getting an injunction against her so that she would have to keep quiet about what was really going on.

Judge Robert Hess ruled in Foglio’s favor June 8th.

“There appears to be support for defendant’s position that the band’s expenses were to be controlled at $5,000 per show and the income over that sum was to belong to the Fund,” Hess wrote in his decision. “It is also significant that none of the papers submitted by plaintiff in opposition to the motion provide any quantitative financial information.”

“I have a phenomenal case for malicious prosecution,” Foglio said, adding that she represented herself pro per because she has a law degree and is now studying for the bar exam. “Forget the slander, forget the invasion of privacy. They wanted the injunction so bad because they knew that I knew what was going on. So it’s not what I had said, it was fear of what I was going to say.”

McPherson would have none of it.

“Unfortunately, what this judge has done by awarding her First Amendment protection to do what she’s been doing is to compel her to lie. He basically said, ‘You can go lie about this guy because he’s a public figure and I’m not going to do anything about it.’ Now, there’s other judges who will (do something about it), and there’s a court of appeal who will.”

The Fund and its president, Victoria Potvin, support Great White, knowing all the tour profit went into the coffer, McPherson said.

“The only one who’s questioning it is the woman who threatened to go and say this when she was being fired, and now she’s said it, and that’s it,” he said

“She is now saying that there’s some kind of cap of $5,000. Look at it mathematically; she makes no sense. Say for example there’s one show that had revenue of $6,000 and expenses were $6,000, which is certainly conceivable … Where does the band get the $1,000?”

The case seemed to rest on the word of former Great White tour manager Craig Bradford, who allegedly signed a declaration in support of Foglio. Bradford did not appear at the hearing.

McPherson said he was personally upset by the decision because he has been working with Russell from the beginning and knows the singer and Great White are doing everything they can to help the families.

“We just want her to go on with her life and hopefully find something else to do,” he said.

Foglio just wants an apology.

“They pulled out the ‘publicist’ thing because I believe they want to make sure if there’s any dispute over commissions [they can’t claim me as manager]. I was the absolute day-to-day manager. I did everything from insurance to the press, to rehearsals to equipment, everything … and if we end up back in court, I’ll prove that, too.”

— Joe Reinartz