Drummer Sues Breaking Benjamin

The former drummer of Breaking Benjamin has filed a civil lawsuit against the group and its manager, saying he was unfairly kicked out and that band members have refused to share profits from songs he helped write.

“It’s a frivolous lawsuit,” manager Larry Mazer of Entertainment Services Unlimited told Pollstar.

The suit lists 11 counts. Jeremy Hummel is seeking at least $750,000 in damages from Mazer and band members Benjamin Burnley, Aaron Fink and Mark Klepaski.

According to the suit, Hummel asked the Wilkes-Barre, Pa.-based band in March 2004 if he could eventually take a family leave of four to six weeks to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. The band agreed to the request and hired a substitute drummer.

In September 2004, Burnley called Hummel, who was on family leave at the time, and told him he was being dropped from the band, according to the lawsuit.

“It’s basic business issues,” Hummel attorney Thomas P. Heeney Jr. told Pollstar. “You go into business with somebody – or a group of folks – and you can’t just kick somebody out at the drop of a hat.”

In a May interview with Burnley, the frontman told Pollstar Hummel was fired because he wasn’t “road material.” The band toured this summer with 3 Doors Down and Staind.

“He was a great drummer but he was not with the program,” Burnley said.

In addition, Hummel is seeking profits from the band’s second EP, which he co-wrote. He also claims he didn’t receive profits from two songs – one released on the soundtrack for the popular video game “Halo 2” and the other for the movie “National Treasure.”

In an interview with the Pennsylvania Times Leader newspaper, Mazer said Hummel is squared away with song profit earnings. He also claims Hummel wants money from the band’s next album, “which he had nothing to do with” and said the ex-member still gets checks for songs he contributed to.

“He’s 100 percent current,” Mazer told the paper. “As recently as 10 days ago we sent him a check.”

The manager reportedly said there were no profits for the song on the video game and that Breaking Benjamin used it for promotional purposes only. Mazer added the band was paid about $3,000 to be on the “National Treasure” soundtrack and that Hummel’s portion of that profit was in the check Mazer recently sent.

“There’s a bunch of facts that aren’t true in [the lawsuit],” Mazer said.

The suit claims that Hummel and Burnley formed the band under the name “Plan 9” in 1999 and decided to change the name to Breaking Benjamin in 2000. Mazer reportedly said Burnley started a version of Breaking Benjamin without Hummel before Plan 9 was formed.

Mitchell Peters