Mick Mars scored a victory in his ongoing legal battle with Mötley Crüe Tuesday when a Los Angeles judge agreed that the rock veterans had unjustly “refused” to cough up the dirt on its wide-ranging business dealings as it simultaneously sought to oust its founding guitarist early last year.
In a new court ruling obtained by Rolling Stone, the judge said the band’s stonewalling left Mars with no choice but to sue for the corporate documents last April. The Los Angeles judge noted that after the filing, the band took eight months to make a final, sizable document dump to Mars last month. Citing the delay, the judge ruled that Mars is now entitled to have the band cover his legal bill.
“The requests were not burdensome. Yet, Mars was compelled to file suit, and it appears plain that production would not have occurred without it. Mars is entitled to attorney fees,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant said in his Tuesday ruling.
The judge noted that when the band produced some of the requested documents on November 2, it gave assurances “this was all of the responsive documents” in Mötley Crüe’s possession. That “proved to be wrong,” Judge Chalfant wrote, pointing to articles of incorporation and income tax returns that only arrived among 1,372 pages of records delivered in early December.
“These documents should have been produced without the need for prodding by Mars,” Judge Chalfant wrote. “[The] failure to produce the documents earlier than December 8 amounts to a refusal.”
Though the judge clearly faulted the band, he also ruled Tuesday that Mars’ lawsuit is now “moot.” That means Mars’ more recent requests for subsequent 2023 general ledger entries won’t be granted because they weren’t included on his list of still-outstanding documents filed in November.
The lead lawyer for Mötley Crüe seized on that portion of the ruling Tuesday, declaring victory on behalf of the band. “The case is over. That’s the key takeaway,” attorney Sasha Frid with Miller Barondess said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “By denying the petition as moot and ending the case, the court found that the band turned over all the documents to Mars and there is nothing more to do. The band went above and beyond its obligations by providing much more documents than the statute required – indeed, the court’s decision explained the thousands of documents that the band provided to Mars.”
Mars’ lawyer scoffed at this assessment, saying the case is only over because the band relented and complied. The attorney said the heart of the case – whether Mars was illegally severed from the band – is still heading to private arbitration later this year. In his public lawsuit filed last April, Mars made it clear he felt betrayed by Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil and Tommy Lee, who each are 25 percent shareholders in most of the band’s entities.
Mars said that before the band’s U.S. stadium tour kicked off in 2022, he let everyone know the tour would be his last. Now 72, Mars has long suffered from ankylosing spondylitis, a disfiguring and painful bone disease that makes it difficult to travel. Mars said he was clear he wasn’t retiring from the band altogether and would be available for a Vegas residency or studio work. He claimed his “brothers of 41 years” responded by offering him a separation proposal that would slash his touring and merchandise profits from 25 percent to 5 percent and eventually 0 percent. When he questioned this on the basis he helped build the band drawing the crowds, the other members purported to fire him from six additional band corporations and LLCs, he claimed. When he asked to inspect the business records behind the entities, he was largely ignored, he said.
“When they wanted to get high and fuck everything up, I covered for them,” Mars told Rolling Stone in an interview last year. “Now they’re trying to take my legacy away, my part of Mötley Crüe, my ownership of the name, the brand. How can you fire Mr. Heinz from Heinz ketchup? He owns it. Frank Sinatra’s or Jimi Hendrix’s legacy goes on forever, and their heirs continue to profit from it. They’re trying to take that away from me. I’m not going to let them.”
Mars’ lawyer, Ed McPherson, tells Rolling Stone that the judge’s ruling on Tuesday confirms his client was mistreated by his bandmates. “Finally, somebody, somewhere told these guys they can’t bully Mick anymore. We’re in the middle of a huge arbitration that will ultimately decide if Mick has to give up his shares or not, if they did things properly or not. Obviously we claim they didn’t do anything properly. But they feel that they’re above the rules. And that’s what this lawsuit was about,” McPherson says.
“This was them feeling they were above the rules, and this judge saying, ‘No, you’re not. And you may have given all the documents now, so there’s nothing left for me to do, but, you’re going to pay for it,” he adds. “I think that’s a pretty huge victory for Mick. If they want to claim a victory, that’s fine. But this is someone finally telling Mick, ‘No, you’re not crazy. These guys are bullying you. And we’re not going to let it happen.’”
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