Pot of Gold Festival Promoters Sued by Partner for Breach of Contract

The scene from the crowd at PoG 2019.
The scene from the crowd at PoG 2019. Jim Louvau
While the rest of the weekend went smooth enough, night one of Pot of Gold 2019 proved to be a logistical kerfuffle. Long lines at ticket booths, a breakdown in communications, delays, and a reshuffled lineup all colored Friday's festivities. Now, though, it seems the festival's problems run deeper still.

According to court documents obtained by Phoenix New Times, Lucky Man Concerts – the Tempe promoter behind PoG – is being sued by one of its partners, the Los Angeles-based Adler Music Group. In a seven-page complaint filed March 29 in a Maricopa County court, AMG accuses LMC of both breach of contract and breach of "good faith and fair dealing." LMC owner Tom LaPenna and his wife, Judith, are named as the primary defendants.

The complaint centers around an agreement LMC and AMG entered into regarding the first day of the festival, Friday, March 15, 2019. Per documents, it was AMG's responsibility to provide the artists for the evening (among them, Ozuna, Ice Cube, and Snoop Dogg), which included all related costs (catering, per diems, and transportation). LMC, meanwhile, was charged with overseeing the venue (Steele Indian School Park), hiring security, and managing ticket and alcohol sales.

As part of the agreement, AMG was to earn the first $1.35 million in net revenues – the combined bar and ticket sales – with LMC slotted to earn a share up to $350,000. After that, 15 percent of all remaining revenue went to AMG.

But as AMG's lawyers contend, the company never received its share of the net ticket revenues by the deadline of March 25. (A deadline for bar revenue is set for on or before May 30.) The lawyers go on to contest that "alcohol and ticket sales were not tracked accurately, and ticket was handled so poorly that hundreds – perhaps thousands – of 'walk up' attendees simply left and went elsewhere."

When AMG went to LMC to obtain a breakdown of both the ticket and bar revenues, as well as supporting documentation, the suit claims LaPenna told representatives that a laptop containing the information had been stolen. Any subsequent data shared was, per the suit, "well below" all projections for ticket and alcohol sales.

Because LMC has "(denied) the right of AMG to receive" its share of fund from the agreement, AMG has "suffered, and continues to suffer, substantial damages in an amount to be proven at trial," adding that the dispute has "critically, and perhaps irreversibly, impaired AMG's future operations." (The group seems to operate on a per-event basis, according to court papers).

Reached via email, LaPenna responded, "We cannot (comment) on any pending litigation."

When initially contacted last week, Jamie Adler, head of AMG, expressed interest in "telling a great story" regarding the suit. However, he did not return subsequent messages or requests for comment.

Founded in 2006, AMG represents mostly hip-hop and rap acts, providing not only booking services, but production, marketing, A&R, and touring services. The client roster includes E-40, Warren G, Soulja Boy, Ghostface Killah, and Baby Bash, according to its website. Lucky Man has not only booked shows in the Valley since 2001, but LaPenna owns and operates Marquee Theatre.

Per the complaint, AMG is seeking all payments per the original agreement, as well as damages and all attorney's fees.
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chris Coplan has been a professional writer since the 2010s, having started his professional career at Consequence of Sound. Since then, he's also been published with TIME, Complex, and other outlets. He lives in Central Phoenix with his fiancee, a dumb but lovable dog, and two bossy cats.
Contact: Chris Coplan