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US judge: Cheap Trick lawsuit dismissed

December 12, 2013

WILMINGTON, Delaware (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by three members of Cheap Trick against the group’s former drummer, saying the dispute should be decided in federal court in Illinois.

The three musicians sought court validation of their purported ouster of drummer Brad Carlson, known as Bun E. Carlos, as a board member of the band’s business entities earlier this year.

But Chancellor Leo Strine Jr. said Thursday many issues in the Delaware lawsuit were raised in an earlier complaint filed in Illinois in which Carlos and former band manager David Frey claim their purported ousters were invalid, and that they are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Strine says the fundamental issue is whether Carlson, who stopped touring with Cheap Trick three years ago, is still a member of the band.

Guitarist Rick Nielesen, vocalist Robin Zander and bassist Tom Peterson sought a court declaration validating steps they took earlier this year to remove Carlson as a board member of three band businesses incorporated in Delaware.

The longtime group, known for its use of vintage guitars on tour, gained acclaim over the decades with such hits as “Surrender,” ″I Want You to Want Me” and “Dream Police.”

The band, minus Carlson, is still touring and is slated to headline a Mardi Gras event in New Orleans in March.

By agreement with other band members, Carlson stopped touring with the group in 2010. But he disputes their claims that he is no longer a member of Cheap Trick and is not entitled to participate in its business affairs.

Carlson’s attorneys argue that he was improperly ousted, citing a previous agreement that says any decision involving the band requires the unanimous consent of all four members.

Strine said Illinois, where the band formed in the 1970s and where two members still live, was a logical jurisdiction for resolving “garden-variety” questions of contract interpretation, including whether Carlson is still a member of the band.

Frey claims that he is also owed money by the three band members, including the balance of a loan he gave the group so it could continue a tour after a July 2011 stage collapse in Ottawa that injured three people and destroyed much of the band’s equipment.

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