Madonna and Live Nation have accused lawyers working for two fans who sued over the musician’s time-keeping at concerts of instigating a “harassment campaign”. That allegation came amid a dispute over whether or not the fans’ lawsuit had been settled. The fans’ attorneys said it had, but representatives for Madonna and Live Nation were adamant it had not. 

Madonna and Live Nation, says their attorney Jeff Warshafsky, aren’t “necessarily opposed to settlement if certain terms can be reached”. However, a court filing last week stating that a settlement had been agreed was simply wrong, he insists. They will “not be harassed into settlement” and cannot “abide false statements” being submitted to the court. 

That false statement, he goes on, is “part and parcel of the harassment campaign” that the other side “has been waging against” Madonna and her business partners “in hopes of extorting a lucrative settlement”. Part of that strategy is to force his clients to “incur unnecessary legal fees”, he claims.

Michael Fellows and Jonathan Hadden sued Madonna in January in relation to shows that took place in New York last December. They claimed that the concert was scheduled to start at 8.30pm but Madonna didn’t arrive on stage until after 10.30pm. That meant the concert didn’t finish until after midnight, and Fellows and Hadden were “confronted with limited public transportation, limited ride-sharing, and/or increased public and private transportation costs”.

It's not the only lawsuit filed this year over Madonna’s slack time-keeping. In April, three fans who attended a show in Washington DC last December went legal, and then another lawsuit was filed last month over a show in Inglewood, California. That latter lawsuit also raised other grievances with Madonna’s performance, including that it included sexualised content, which somehow surprised at least one litigious fan. 

Where Madonna showed up late, the lawsuits accuse her and promoter Live Nation of breach of contract, false advertising and negligent misrepresentation. Lawyers for the artist and live music giant have strongly contested those claims, reckoning that it’s pretty standard with pop concerts that, when a start time is advertised as 8.30pm, you don’t expect the headline act to be on stage at that time. 

According to TMZ, in a recent legal filing responding to the Fellows and Hadden lawsuit, Madonna and Live Nation stated that, any fan with any familiarity with the musician’s concerts, "would surely know that Madonna typically takes the stage well after the ticketed event time (after an opening act, set transition, and so on) and plays late into the night”. 

It's not currently clear why lawyers working for Fellows and Hadden thought a settlement had been agreed with Madonna and Live Nation. In a letter to the court, Warshafsky says that a possible settlement was discussed in May, but on 4 Jun he informed the other side that his clients would not be proposing any settlement in writing at this time. 

Then, on 6 Jun, Fellows and Hadden’s lawyers sent over a settlement agreement they had written for approval, and - before Warshafsky could query that document - it had been filed with the court as a notice of settlement. Warshafsky says he doesn’t know what the other side’s lawyers “believe they are accomplishing or trying to accomplish with the false notice”. Unless it’s to buy them more time to respond to Madonna and Live Nation’s motion for dismissal. 

Either way, in response to Warshafsky’s letter, the judge overseeing the case rejected the notice of settlement. Fellows and Hadden now have until 1 July to respond to Madonna and Live Nation’s objections to their lawsuit.

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