Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Scores Victory in Legal Battle Over Racism Claims Against Liquor Giant Diageo

Sean “Diddy” Combs and his company, Combs Wines and Spirits LLC, filed a lawsuit against former partner Diageo over alleged acts of racism, neglect, and sabotage.

via: New York Post

A judge denied the liquor giant’s motion to dismiss his claims of the company of racism in the promotion and distribution of his liquor labels.

Judge Joel M. Cohen of the Supreme Court of New York for the County of New York also declined Diageo’s request to force the case into arbitration, which would have allowed the company to skirt around a trial in court, court documents filed Thursday showed.

The move means Combs can proceed in uncovering evidence to support his claims that the company didn’t support his Diageo-backed liquor brands — Ciroc Vodka and DeLéon Tequila — in the same manner that it supported its partnerships with white celebrities, according to Bloomberg Law.

“I’m fighting for fair and equal treatment for everyone,” Combs told The Post in a statement. “This isn’t just about me. I look forward to continuing this fight in court. We all deserve the same 24 hours.”

“This case has always been about getting fair and equal treatment,” Combs’ lawyer John Hueston told The Post. “Yesterday’s decision is an important step in the right direction. Diageo tried to end this action. Today the judge soundly rejected that effort.”

“While we are disappointed with today’s procedural decision, it is important to underscore that this is not a ruling on the merits of the claims, which we maintain are false and baseless,” a Diageo spokesperson said in a statement. “We are currently considering all legal options.”

Combs attended the hearing in person and plans to be present in court until the case is closed, according to Bloomberg.

“I always tell my clients to attend the court hearings because that sends a message to the judge, the law clerks, and the public that they really do care, and it’s not just another piece of litigation,” Hueston told the news site.

The legal feud between Combs and Diageo began in May when the music mogul alleged that his own business partner “sabotaged” his DeLeón brand with shoddy packaging that “made the product look cheap,” according to the complaint.

The 53-year-old claimed that Diageo “did not support [DeLeón and Ciroc] as promised, repeatedly failing to provide sufficient support for production, distribution and sales,” according to court documents.

The filing alleged Diageo’s classification system labeled Ciroc and DeLeón as “urban,” “African American” and “black” brands based on a “misguided belief that a black entrepreneur could only appeal to others who shared his skin color.”

Meanwhile, Diageo “invested more than $1 billion to acquire and grow” George Clooney’s Casamigos tequila brand, the complaint pointed out.

It also noted that the company marketed Casamigos “to consumers of all races, leading to billions in sales” despite “only having white founders.”

Though the court documents didn’t point out how much money Diageo poured into Ciroc and DeLeón, it claimed that Combs was pivotal in helping “struggling Ciroc” go “from a meager 75,000 cases in annual sales to millions in just a few years.”

In Diageo’s motion to dismiss Combs’ complaint, however, the company stated it poured “over $100 million” into the DeLeón venture and alleged Combs only made a “$1,000 initial capital contribution.”.

Combs’ attorney refuted the claim, saying “Combs has satisfied all his obligations under his DeLeón joint venture agreement, including funding.”

Hueston said Combs’ agreement with Diageo called on the company to fund the joint venture and “be primarily responsible for ensuring sufficient production and distribution.”

In turn, Combs “would use his global popularity and reach to market DeLeón to consumers, distributors, and retailers, an immense and significant value to the DeLeón brand.”

Combs’ relationship with Diageo dates to 2007, when the London-based company — which owns more than 200 brands, including Guinness beer and Tanqueray gin — approached Combs about Ciroc.

Combs has reportedly taken home nearly $1 billion throughout his tie-up with Diageo.

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