Attack Monkey Productions, LLC Responds to Dogwood Arts in Rhythm N’ Blooms Countersuit

Dawes, Rhythm n Blooms, Knoxville, May 2019

As expected, the recent injunction filed by Dogwood Arts against Attack Monkey Productions did not go without legal response. A countersuit was filed late last week in Knox County Chancery Court responding to the previous filing and detailing the disagreements between the parties.

As first reported here, Dogwood Arts, stating that the relationship between the two has become unworkable, asked to be released from any legal obligations to continue a contractual relationship with Attack Monkey Productions, with whom they have contracted for production of the festival since 2012. Their position is that the contracts, including the most recent, violate their charter as a non-profit.

They further state that they own the rights to the name Rhythm N’ Blooms and should not be required to give first right of refusal to Attack Monkey, as stated in their 2019 contract. They asked that the judge bar Chyna Brackeen from using the name going forward, and that she and Attack Monkey not interfere with plans for the 2020 festival.

The response filed in court last week argues that the 2019 contract is valid, and if it violates the non-profit’s charter, that does not render it void. The countersuit quotes a previous ruling to that effect and asserts that this type of contract is not forbidden for a 501(c)(3) as long as the private company or person contracted has no “personal or private interest” in the organization.

My Brightest Diamond, Rhythm n Blooms, Knoxville, May 2019

As detailed in the suit, Dogwood Arts has paid a contracted amount to Attack Monkey each year but has never paid a percentage of the profits, reporting each year that there was no net income above the agreed upon amount for exempted expenses. This suit calls the accounting into question, particularly regarding sponsorships, which they allege were not reported openly and accurately.

The 2019 contract required payment of 30% of gross revenue (previous contracts used the word “net”) over $100,000 of staff expense. This suit alleges that Dogwood Arts did not pay any portion of that percentage and did not provide a “thorough and itemized accounting of all expenses.” It also states that, in apparent violation of the 2019 contract, Dogwood Arts is “presently meeting and coordinating with third parties for future RNB events, without regard to Attack Monkey’s right of first refusal . . .”

Also disputed is the idea that rights to the Rhythm N’ Blooms brand is owned by Dogwood Arts. The legal position of Attack Monkey is that they co-owned the brand when it was submitted to the USPTO for trademark, and that the sole ownership claimed by Dogwood Arts was a misrepresentation, which Attack Monkey claims “resulted in an improper registration and appropriation of partnership property for Dogwood’s sole benefit.”

Attack Monkey claims damages and losses, both current and future, as a result of the actions of Dogwood Arts, most vehemently in failure to pay the 2019 contract and to honor the first right of refusal for future festivals.

Tank and the Bangas, Rhythm n Blooms, Knoxville, May 2019

As a result of all of the above, the countersuit requests that the courts remove Chyna Brackeen personally from the suit as all contracts have been with the business she owns. They also request that all claims against Attack Monkey be dismissed. They request that the court find that Dogwood Arts breached the contract for all previous years and award damages and legal fees to Attack Monkey.

As with Dogwood Arts representatives, when asked for a comment with the previous filing, Ms. Brackeen is not prepared to comment publicly at this time, saying, “I am unable to comment on the pending litigation. However, I am proud of what Rhythm N’ Blooms has become since our humble first festival ten years ago, and I look forward to continuing that success for many years to come.”

Given the two suits and the fact that planning for the festival and scheduling of artists would need to be well underway, it seems ambitious to assume the needed advance work to be done to produce a festival by spring can be completed on time, unless a resolution is found very quickly.

Comments

  1. Excellent coverage of a difficult situation. If you look back through the event history, the situation shouldn’t be that difficult, as Chyna Brackeen has been the creative genius behind R&B, behind the performances imbued with fun, originality, and passion for individual expression. She’s such a go-getter for Knoxville, and we owe her a great debt of gratitude.

  2. Hell hath no fury like an attacking monkey scorned.

  3. I’m not a lawyer and don’t know the history of the event beyond Alan’s articles. It would be a shame if RnB didn’t happen because of this squabble.

  4. You’re right – I was looking over Attack Monkey’s filing (linked from the Compass article) and the six contracts that are attached as exhibits show that Attack Monkey and Dogwood have partnered on the event since the festival’s inception in 2010.. Partnership agreement is on page 27.
    https://compassknox.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2019.10.10-Answer-and-Counter-Claims-filed-00027100xF289A.pdf

  5. Christian Rue says

    As I was looking into festival history, it appears that Attack Monkey and Chyna started the festival back in 2010 rather than being brought in during 2012. As this plays out, I think these details will be crucial to understanding the complexity of the situation. This is such an unfortunate turn events for Knoxville.

    Here’s an old Mercury article for reference and timeline accuracy:

    https://www.knoxmercury.com/2015/04/08/rhythm-n-blooms-2015-a-brief-history-of-knoxvilles-biggest-music-festival/

  6. Hooligannie says

    Having worked the Rhythm and Bloom festival in the early days as stage manager, I can tell you the Chyna both planned and produced it starting in 2010. It’s her baby and she has made it what it is today- a successful boon for our economy and culture, and an all around fun accessible time for everyone.

    It’s a shame this has come to such a matter of contention. DA should be ashamed. This isn’t a good look.

  7. Derek R. Trimble says

    I mean, if you sue a company called ‘Attack Monkey’ you’d have to wager that you’ll get yourself a legal fight. It’s a monkey that attacks people for god’s sake.

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