Killer Suit

The former manager of The Killers filed a federal lawsuit February 21st against the band members and their former lawyer, seeking $16 million for what he calls breach of contract.

Braden Merrick and his management company, From the Future Management, allege in the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas that he was fired last May, once The Killers gained success following its debut album, Hot Fuss. He claims the four-piece terminated its 2003 management contract without legal justification and failed to pay royalties under a producer agreement.

“As soon as he made them superstars they decided to stop paying him,” Howard King, Merrick’s lawyer, said. “He’s entitled to a percentage of their income for his services as a manager and producer.”

Merrick’s contract was through 2007, according to King. The two sides had been negotiating a settlement before the lawsuit was filed.

Also named in the suit is The Killers’ former lawyer, Robert Reynolds, who is now temporarily handling management duties. Reynolds said he and band members Brandon Flowers, Ronnie Vannucci Jr., Dave Keuning and Mark Stoermer were surprised by the suit.

“Mr. Merrick’s allegations are entirely without merit and we intend to defend this vigorously,” Reynolds told Pollstar, adding that neither he nor the band had any further comment.

In a 2004 Pollstar interview for a Killers cover story, Merrick said he discovered the band through a Las Vegas Web site. Frontman Flowers vouched for that.

“Braden was a rep for Warner Bros. and he was just looking for bands. Las Vegas was his territory, so he was checking out,” Flowers told Pollstar. “He stayed with us and ended up being our manager until we got a record deal, and he’s still here.”

The suit says that after many rejections from major labels, Merrick’s efforts eventually led to a deal with Island Def Jam Music Group. Since then, Hot Fuss has sold more than 6 million copies, the suit says.

Merrick claims that Reynolds, who was the band’s attorney at the time, charged an unfair 15 percent of The Killers’ gross income. After that amount was lowered – on Merrick’s advice to the band – Reynolds convinced the band to shift management duties to him, the suit alleges.

“With the eager assistance of a lawyer plotting to become their manager, The Killers have taken the money they owe Merrick and his management company and stuffed it into their own jeans,” it said.

Meanwhile, The Killers are currently in the studio working on their next album, Reynolds said.