The Killers Retaliate

Members of Las Vegas four-piece The Killers have filed a lawsuit against former manager Braden Merrick and his company, From the Future Management.

The suit is in response to a claim Merrick filed February 21st alleging the band fired him without legal justification and failed to pay him royalties under a producer agreement. Merrick is seeking $16 million for what he calls breach of contract.

In the countersuit obtained by Pollstar, The Killers’ Brandon Flowers, Ronnie Vannucci Jr., Dave Keuning and Mark Stoermer say Merrick’s suit is a “classic story of an incompetent manager who abandoned his clients at a critical juncture of the careers, and now seeks to cash in on their success.”

“Merrick was fired because the band concluded that he was grossly incompetent, dishonest, a double dealer who breached his fiduciary duties, and was unable or unwilling to perform the most rudimentary tasks required of him,” it says.

The countersuit alleges that when Merrick was supposed to be acting as The Killers’ exclusive manager, he was posing and acting as the foursome’s talent agent without a requisite license under the California Talent Agency Act. And during that same period, he was “double dealing” by secretly working for, and being paid by, the A&R reps from the band’s own label to scout for new talent, according to the suit.

The suit also says Merrick wasn’t available to The Killers when they needed him the most. Apparently, Merrick would not bother to return phone calls from publishing companies, merchandising companies and record labels “who had critical business opportunities.” The band cites an e-mail they sent to the manager saying, “People are becoming frustrated because you’re not communicating with them. … You must do this!”

On one occasion, one of the band members was forced to call a third party and apologize on Merrick’s behalf for his failure to cancel a confirmed meeting with him, the suit says.

The band’s attorney finally sent Merrick a letter that he was in breach of contract, partly due to deception, according to the lawsuit. The manager allegedly claimed he was going to send a response but never did so.

“Ironically, this was precisely the type of incompetence and deception that led to his breaching the Agreement in the first instance,” the suit says. “As one band member said, ‘At least he is consistent.'”

The band is asking the contract with Merrick be declared null and unenforceable, and is asking for full monetary restitution from the manager. In a separate action filed Friday, the band also asked the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to void any agreements between The Killers and Merrick.

A spokeswoman at the agency’s San Francisco headquarters said Monday she was not immediately aware of the band’s petition and did not know when a hearing would be scheduled.

Merrick’s lawyer, Howard King of Los Angeles, called the Labor Standards action moot because the band’s contract with Merrick, which was to have run through 2007, was in Nevada.

Although he had not seen Friday’s or Monday’s actions, King said they were expected.

“You gotta take your shot if you don’t want to pay what you owe,” he said

The Killers are currently in the studio working on the follow-up to their multiplatinum debut, Hot Fuss.