ST. LOUIS — A jury on Friday awarded $875,000 in damages to a vendor for a defunct St. Louis musical festival after organizers accused him of sabotage.
Howard “Chip” Self, the owner of Valley Park-based Logic Systems Sound and Lighting, withdrew from the outdoor music festival LouFest in the summer of 2018. LouFest sued him in 2019. He countersued later that year.
“It’s just a relief to not have this hanging over my head anymore,” Self said Friday.
LouFest, the Forest Park music festival, started in 2010. But in September 2018, just days before it was set to begin, some sponsors and vendors, including Logic Systems, pulled out and organizers canceled the event.
In early 2019, festival organizers filed a lawsuit accusing Self and his company of sabotaging the event by exaggerating LouFest’s financial problems in comments to the press. Self’s ultimate goal, the lawsuit claimed, was to start his own festival. Self’s lawyers argued there was no evidence of such a plot.
People are also reading…
LouFest dismissed the lawsuit three months later, and in November 2019, Logic Systems filed its own suit against LouFest and its producer, Listen Live Entertainment, plus organizer Michael Van Hee, for defamation and malicious prosecution. That suit argued LouFest’s initial lawsuit had damaged the reputation Self had built over 30 years in the lighting and sound business.
In trial this week, attorney Thomas Magee argued Logic Systems and Self had potentially lost major business because a simple online search would turn up articles about LouFest’s initial lawsuit.
“The whole thing was bunk,” Magee said in closing arguments.
But Michael Griffith, the attorney representing LouFest, said Self’s comments to the Post-Dispatch days before the festival were the turning point that led to its demise.
“If you don’t have sound, if you don’t have lights, you don’t have a festival,” Griffith said in court. “(Self) didn’t have to speak to the press. He could’ve just walked away and not done the job.”
Magee said Self was not the only person complaining about not getting paid and was getting unfairly punished for a problem he didn’t create.
“You can’t sue somebody for telling the truth,” Magee said.
Magee asked the jury to award $2 million to Logic Systems and $2 million to Self in damages.
After roughly four hours of deliberation, the jury awarded $800,000 to Logic Systems and $75,000 to Self.
Magee called the verdict “vindication.”
“The most important thing was a jury saying Logic Systems didn’t do anything wrong and Logic Systems wasn’t part of a giant conspiracy to take over LouFest,” he said.