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Contract dispute between network, talent company over Gaga show

A Russian television network and two entertainment companies are locked in a contract dispute over a proposed Lady Gaga performance during an award show. After a federal judge granted summary judgment to the network, saying that the other parties were in breach of the contract, he also said that the parties must continue on to trial to examine the facts before any of the disputed money is released to any of the parties.

The case has some complex facts, since the network engaged a music label to hire Lady Gaga, and then the music label hired a talent agent who said that he would secure the singer's appearance at the award show. It is additionally complex because some of the parties are Russian entities, while the others are incorporated in various parts of the United States.

The agreement between the label and the apparent booking agent stipulated that they would not offer Lady Gaga more than $1.5 million to perform and specified the date of the performance as June 1. As a part of his defense, the booking agent says that he substantially performed under the terms of the contract by securing a performance for $3.5 million on October 9.

Substantial performance is probably a term that Virginia readers are unfamiliar with. It is a term used in contract law to describe a situation where full performing all of the terms of the contract to the letter for some reason and they have to modify the ultimate result slightly in order to complete the task. For example, if a buyer orders ten green chairs from a seller and the seller only has eight or nine green chairs available, they may send the lesser number and say that they have substantially performed. In that example, the performance was pretty similar to what was described in the contract, and often the other party will accept that and pay accordingly.

In this case, the performance that the booking agent says that he completed was to book Lady Gaga for a different day at a higher price. In addition, the singer never signed a contract that would have secured her performance on any day or time for this particular event.

There are various other allegations in this lawsuit, amounting to significant back-and-forth about who breached the terms of the contract and when. All of this disagreement is likely one of the factors that has led the judge to require a trial before funds are released back to the network.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Trial Needed to Sort Out Botched Lady Gaga Deal," Deshayla Strachan, Jan. 16, 2013.

Our Virginia law firm handles a variety of contract disputes. More information is available on our website.

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