BottleRock Strikes Back

BottleRock festival co-founders Bob Vogt and Gabe Meyers filed a $500,000 countersuit Sept. 6 against Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation, claiming the company failed to deliver services as promised – some three months after the company sued BottleRock for nonpayment.

Meanwhile, IATSE Local 16 has petitioned for arbitration of its claim that approximately 142 workers weren’t paid for their work on the May 8-12 festival in Napa, Calif.

BottleRock’s countersuit accuses Bauer’s of engaging in “unlawful and unfair” business practices, using “threats and bad faith,” and putting festival organizers under financial duress, according to the Napa Valley Register.

One day before the festival began, the complaint reportedly states, Bauer’s asked Vogt and Meyers to provide personal guarantees to pay for festival transportation services and to make Bauer’s a secured creditor in case of a bankruptcy.

“Bauer’s threatened not to provide the transportation and contacted others to exert pressure on the Festival,” unless the guarantees were made, the complaint said.

The company also “failed to provide the requisite number of vehicles called for. … The vehicles failed to operate on schedule and failed to operate during the hours required by the Festival.”

The suit claims the “wrongful conduct” entitles BottleRock, Vogt and Meyers compensation of $500,000, the suit claims.

Aaron Hancock, and attorney for Bauer’s, disputes the accusations. He told the paper that organizers had promised a partial payment to Bauer’s by the first day of the festival. When the payment wasn’t made, the company informed Vogt and Meyers that “we can’t provide the service if you don’t have the money.”

Hancock added that the request for guarantees and secured creditor status is “standard business practice,” according to the paper, and denied the company failed to perform.

Also on the BottleRock legal front, IATSE Local 16 filed papers Aug. 27 asking Napa County Superior Court to force BottleRock to begin arbitration over some $630,000 in unpaid wages for work done between April 30 and May 15 by its members.

“The employer has no … basis for refusing to arbitrate,” the Register quotes from court documents. “Such refusal … is calculated to delay an amicable resolution of a legitimate labor dispute.”

BottleRock and IATSE are said to have had a working agreement in which the union would supply workers for future festivals through 2017. Tickets for BottleRock 2014 remain on sale through the festival’s website.

Numerous creditors are clamoring for repayment, and the festival’s unpaid bills have reached a reported $2.5 million, though sources tell Pollstar the debt may be much higher.

Representative from Live Nation reportedly met with Napa officials in August, stirring hope that it might rescue the festival. Both parties have been silent on the subject.