BottleRock Festival Organizers Face Lawsuits Seeking $700K In Unpaid Bills
NAPA (CBS SF) — Organizers of the BottleRock Music Festival held in Napa in May are facing two lawsuits from a bus company and a portable toilet company seeking more than $700,000 for unpaid bills.
Several other companies and agencies are also awaiting payment for other services including backstage food for the festival staff and extra police for the four-day event.
The May 9-12 festival at the Napa Valley Expo fairground drew tens of thousands of people to hear more than 70 bands on three stages and more than a dozen comedy acts.
“It was by far the largest single event ever held in the city,” said Barry Martin, the city’s community outreach coordinator.
Festival organizer Robert Vogt and the festival company, BR Festivals LLC, could not be reached for comment on the lawsuits or on the status of the bills.
One breach-of-contract lawsuit was filed in Napa County Superior Court on June 17 by Bauer Intelligent Transportation Inc., which said it was still owed $524,230 out of a total bill of more than $1.2 million for bus shuttle service at the event.
The defendants in the lawsuit are BR Festivals LLC and organizers Vogt and Gabriel Meyers.
The lawsuit said that after the festival company allegedly “began to give indications” to the bus firm that it might not be able to pay, Vogt and Meyers executed written personal guarantees on May 8 that either BR Festivals or they would pay the full amount.
A second breach-of-contract lawsuit for $202,000 was filed in the same court on Friday by United Site Services of California, which supplied portable toilets and temporary fencing.
The company’s attorney, Susan Bishop, said the lawsuit was filed because “all signs led to concern” about whether the bill would be paid. She said the indications included news stories saying that other vendors have not been paid and the fact that the festival company’s office in Napa appears to be closed.
Still, “we’d love to resolve it before going to a trial,” Bishop said.
One of the other vendors is the Up & Under Pub and Grill of Point Richmond, which says it is owed $185,000 for catering meals for the festival staff during 15 days of set-up and the event itself.
Pub owner Nathan Trivers said his relatively small company is in danger of going out of business if he doesn’t get paid.
The catering deal was the largest job the pub received in its three and one-half years of existence, Trivers said.
“This was the job of the century,” he said. “Now it’s the nightmare of the century.”
Trivers said he emptied the pub’s bank account to pay the vendors who supplied the food, and has had to take two loans to cover the payroll for his 33 employees.
The pub provided 8,500 meals for artists, crews, stagehands and security staff during the 15 days, he said.
Trivers said a “cash mob” organized by a concerned patron on Friday brought in a spike in business as well as $4,000 in donations to help out the pub.
“The amount of support and love from the community has been enormous. No amount of money could touch that. That makes us feel good,” Trivers said.
Joseph Anderson, the chief executive officer of the state-owned Napa Valley Exposition fairgrounds, said the agency is still owed $310,938 out of a total bill of $752,622 for use of the facility.
Anderson said he has been told by Vogt that “probably in the next week we are going to get our money.”
Trivers and Bishop said they had not heard any recent updates on when the pub and the portable toilet company might be paid.
Martin, who works in the city manager’s office, said the festival’s third and final payment of $106,730 for its special event permit is due Thursday.
The festival previously paid two other installments of the same amount, he said.
The fee charged by the city pays for services such as extra police and public works installation of traffic management barricades, Martin said.
Asked whether the city would be likely to provide a permit for a similar event in the future, Martin said, “We’re not in a position to make blanket statements about future proposals.
“The only way we can do our job correctly is to evaluate every proposal that comes before us independently, and to apply policies uniformly,” he said.
“I would say that we learn from every event that occurs,” he added.
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