Signatures Suit

Former Signatures Network Inc. chief financial officer Peter Chantel has filed a lawsuit charging that the company, recently purchased by Live Nation, wrongfully fired him in retaliation for protesting alleged fraudulent practices that deprived musicians of millions of dollars in royalties.

The suit, filed February 20th in San Francisco Superior Court, also claims discrimination on the basis of disability and failure to provide reasonable accommodations required by California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Signatures, with some $120 million in annual gross revenues, is one of the world’s largest merch and fan club companies. Founded by Dell Furano, it has had contracts with some of the biggest names in music including Madonna, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Lopez, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss, Coldplay and Justin Timberlake, according to court documents.

In his complaint, Chantel claims Furano and chief operating officer Phil Cussen ignored his warnings against a laundry list of practices he considered potentially fraudulent, and which he said he discovered upon his promotion to CFO in March 2006.

They then allegedly engaged in "ongoing retaliation toward [Chantel] including but not limited to treating Plaintiff in an abrupt and rude manner, taking away responsibilities Plaintiff had always managed, excluding Plaintiff from meetings he otherwise would have attended and withholding key information Plaintiff needed to perform his job."

In October 2006, Chantel underwent emergency spinal surgery, according to court documents, and returned to work a month later to a pattern of alleged harassment. In addition, Chantel accuses Signatures of failing to offer "accommodations for the limitations [Chantel] experienced as he continued to deal with the effects of his surgery…"

He was terminated in February 2007 while on a leave of absence, according to the complaint. He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorneys fees in the case.

A spokesman for Live Nation, also named in the suit, said the company would have no comment on the pending litigation.