Ne-Yo Ordered to Pay Up for Letting Fans Down

Maryland Judge orders him to pay big bucks in damages

By Arlene Borenstein
|  Monday, Aug 30, 2010  |  Updated 3:46 PM EDT
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Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Philip Caroom ordered R&B Artist Ne-Yo, a.k.a Shaffer Smith, to pay $156,000 in damages and costs after the singer failed to show up at a scheduled New Year's Eve Concert in Washington state.

The event's promoter, Kenyhon Clark, decided to sue Ne-Yo and his agent. The Maryland-based promoter claims they failed to return a $95,000 deposit that secured the singer's appearance. His attorneys said more than 1,500 tickets had been sold with fans paying anywhere from $125 to $1,275.

Clark received a text message from a travel agent on the day of the event saying Ne-Yo had been delayed during his travels in Africa and would not make it to the event on time, according to the Baltimore Sun. Clark apparently took the brunt of the situation.

"He refunded everyone who asked for a refund," said Jason C. Brino, Clark's lawyer, who added that such was the anger over the failed New Year's Eve party that Clark's life was threatened and his home in Kent, another Seattle suburb, vandalized. "He was more or less driven out of town. He was investigated by the attorney general of Washington. It was bad."

The paper also reported that Clark is a decorated 30-year-old Army veteran of the Iraq war who had booked USO tours while in the service.

Eventually, Brino said, his client, in need of a job, returned to the Middle East, working for a time as a contractor for Lockheed Martin Corp. in Afghanistan.

The judge ordered Ne-Yo and booking agency Esterman Entertainment to pay $131,629 in compensatory damages and other costs to the event's promoter, Kenyohn Clark, according to the paper. The judge also reportedly ordered the agency's owner, Mike Esterman, to pay an additional $24,450 in punitive damages to Clark.

Court documents show Ne-Yo testified at trial that he knew in his "heart of hearts" that the deposit should have been returned. The decision came down after a four-day trial that began in late July. Attorneys for Ne-Yo and Esterman could not immediately be reached for comment.

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