Dance promoter Insomniac hits L.A. with seven-figure lawsuit over canceled Tiesto concert

Tiesto performs at the 2010 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Tiesto performs at the 2010 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Tickets never went on sale and promotions were never staged, but a planned headlining concert by electronic artist Tiesto is the center of a seven-figure civil suit filed against the city of Los Angeles on Friday. Local dance promoter Insomniac Inc. claims the city breached its contract when it canceled what would have been an Oct. 30 concert by the well-known trance artist in the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

On Monday, the mayor’s office referred requests for comments to the convention center, and a spokeswoman for the facility said no statement or comment would be forthcoming.

In its filing, Insomniac -- the company that also staged the now-controversial two-day Electric Daisy Carnival in and around L.A. Memorial Coliseum in late June -- claims that the city did not have proper cause to terminate the concert, for which tickets were to go on sale Aug. 17.

Insomniac writes in its complaint that the city cited the rampant use of the drug Ecstasy at Electric Daisy, as well as the death of a teenage girl who attended the concert and died of a suspected overdose, as its reasons for calling off the Tiesto appearance.

In its claims for damages, Insomniac cited more than a dozen recent deaths at or after major music or sporting events, including that of a 27-year-old man who died after being punched at a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game, essentially arguing that the Tiesto appearance was unfairly singled out because of public perceptions of dance and electronic rave-like concerts.

“Events like [Electric Daisy] and the Tiesto concert are held at legal venues and are planned in conjunction with law enforcement and medical personnel,” reads the claim. "[The Convention Center’s] unilateral termination of the contract will send the wrong message by suppressing the popularization of electronic music, encouraging it to revert back to its underground, unsafe beginnings.”

Insomniac is asking for damages of at least $1,015,180, citing a loss of profit of $436,250 and an estimated production cost of $668,750. Court documents state that Tiesto was guaranteed $250,000 for the single-night event.

The artist’s management, Complete Control, did not respond to requests for comment.

Insomniac, which promoted five sold-out Tiesto shows in and around Los Angeles in 2008 and 2009, noted that its planned convention center event was no different from Sunday’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl, which featured dance act the Chemical Brothers.

“If this breach is allowed to stand, Insomniac will be known as a promoter that cannot follow through on its commitments,” reads the filing. “As a result, artists of Tiesto’s caliber may henceforth by unwilling to contract with Insomniac.”

A copy of Insomniac’s rental agreement with the convention center notes that the city may terminate the contract for the reason of “good cause.” Should it do so, reads the contract, the “tenant agrees to waive and forgo any and all claims for damages against City by reason of such termination.... Tenant shall have no recourse of any kind against city.”

The dance community has faced strict scrutiny in Los Angeles since the Electric Daisy Carnival, which drew an estimated crowd of 80,000 to 100,000 people per day, and led to more than 100 hospitalizations. Two days after the event, 15-year-old Sasha Rodriguez died of suspected drug-related causes.

The Coliseum Commission then imposed a temporary ban on rave contracts, although three events scheduled for the remainder of 2010 were granted approval to continue. The commission -- the joint state, county and city panel that oversees the venue -- has, however, imposed new restrictions on the promoters of dance events.

Going forward, promoters must enforce a strict age limit of 18 by checking identification, hire a team of emergency-room doctors to work on-site and warn rave-goers about the dangers of the illegal drug Ecstasy.

A heavily policed Aug. 7 festival, Hard Summer, went off as planned at a state park in downtown L.A., and resulted in four arrests.

An Aug. 21 dance concert at the L.A. Sports Arena didn’t fare as well, resulting in more than 80 arrests and three hospitalizations.