Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs alleges Diageo of ‘illegal and outrageous retaliation’
Sean “Diddy” Combs has alleged Diageo engaged in “illegal and outrageous retaliation” towards him because he has taken legal action against the drinks giant.
The latest claim in the on-going legal action comes from a brief filed in court in response to Diageo’s motion to compel arbitration and dismiss his lawsuit filed in May.
Combs has now alleged Diageo blocked him from delivering a planned speech at a distributor event, and issued directives to stop Combs Wines, which co-owns DeLeón Tequila with Diageo, from speaking with distributors and retailers about the brand.
According to the filing, it states “the message is clear – if you dare to shed light on Diageo’s conduct, you will be punished” and it alleges Diageo has no legal basis to end its contracts with Combs — and everything he has done in filing his lawsuit has been done in strict accordance with all Diageo agreements.
The filing goes on to state that Combs satisfied his obligations under the DeLeón agreement, and outlines the details of the joint venture with the Diageo. It states the drinks giant with its “immense resources” was to fund the DeLeón joint venture and “be primarily responsible for ensuring sufficient production and distribution” while Combs would “use his global popularity and reach” which had “immense and significant value” to the brand to market it to consumers, distributors, and retailers.
A letter was also included in the filing from Combs’s attorney John Hueston, which was sent to Diageo’s attorney, demanding the company end “its plainly retaliatory and unlawful conduct.”
“While Diageo has self-servingly misrepresented the goals of Combs’s lawsuit in the press, its attempt to retaliate against Combs for asserting his legal rights will not work in court,” Hueston states in the letter.
It also states that Combs had an “absolute litigation privilege” to raise the issues in a lawsuit and prevent “Diageo from punishing Mr. Combs for exercising that right,” after it severed ties with the musician and entrepreneur.
Additionally, the letter states that Combs was within his right to discuss previous issues, dating back to 2007, which Diageo had said breached their agreement. This was because, according to Combs’ lawyer’s letter, nothing prevents Combs from discussing those issues as background in the complaint, because they are directly relevant to the history of unfair treatment and racially incentive incidents, it claims.
Previously, Combs has alleged Diageo of racially insensitive incidents, including a watermelon-flavoured version of DeLeón Tequila, and marketing it as a ‘black’ brand for urban customers, as well as overall neglect of the marketing of the product as well as production issues.
The musician and entrepreneur’s company, Combs Wine and Spirits, which is behind the DeLeón Tequila and Ciroc French vodka brands, filed legal action to New York’s Supreme Court against Diageo in May.
It accused Diageo of wrongly “cloaking itself in the language of diversity and equality”, and claimed that the company had “proven unwilling to treat its Black partners equally— even when explicitly required by contract to do so”. At the time, Diageo noted that it was only a “business dispute” and reiterated its “steadfast commitment to diversity”.
Diageo said in a statement to db: “This is a business dispute and should not be recast as anything other than that.
“We have exercised our contractual rights to terminate the marketing services agreement in place for Cîroc and begin the wind down of the DeLeón joint venture. Our actions are consistent with our desire to protect the significant investment we have made in both brands and their future growth.
“Mr. Combs’ longstanding bad faith actions, false accusations, and breaches of contract overwhelmingly support Diageo’s justified decision to sever ties.”