The owners of an independent promotions company are suing Live Nation for alleged strong-arm tactics that led to the owners losing a contract with...

The owners of an independent promotions company are suing Live Nation for alleged strong-arm tactics that led to the owners losing a contract with the New Jersey State Fair.

Thomas Dorfman and Chris Barrett, owners of Juice Entertainment, LLC, claim that Live Nation “repeatedly made defamatory statements” about Juice Entertainment and coerced artists not to play at this year’s fair.

“Among other illegal tactics, Live Nation threatened to deny ticketing to the venue if it were not permitted to share in the contract,” the lawsuit states. Representatives from the company also allegedly referred to Juice as “thieves.”

In January and February of 2011, Juice Entertainment began contacting acts to play the month-long summer festival, and the principals claim that they were being assisted by the William Morris Talent Agency. Juice had secured a preliminary agreement with State Fair Event Management (SFEM) to begin booking acts and promoting an electronic dance concert, among other shows, for the event.

Almost immediately upon Juice receiving the preliminary agreement, representatives of Live Nation allegedly told SFEM that Dorfman and Barrett were “broke,” and that the pair lacked the experience to pull off events of that size. Juice claims both allegations were false and defamatory, in part because Dorfman and Barrett had successfully produced a Latin music festival for SFEM in 2010.

Despite Live Nation’s alleged interference, Juice still signed a formal, five-year contract in March with SFEM to produce concerts for the 2011 state fair. Juice claims that Live Nation wanted to participate in producing concerts at the fair, which is why it allegedly tried to muscle its way into the contract.

According to the lawsuit, Live Nation allegedly then tried to block Juice from signing the electronic music DJ Tiesto to play the fair. Live Nation allegedly did this by threatening that if the artist performed at the fair, he would be barred from playing at other Live Nation-owned venues.

The lawsuit claims that Live Nation tried to use the fact that it tickets events at the Meadowlands Sports Complex — where the state fair is held each June and July — to allegedly strong-arm its way into Juice’s contract with the fair. Live Nation allegedly threatened to pull ticketing services for the entire fair if it was not allowed to participate in the contract.

Dorfman and Barrett claim that they met with Live Nation representatives, who allegedly threatened them and demanded the company be allowed to participate in the contract. The two refused, and Live Nation allegedly blocked several unnamed artists from signing to play the fair.

With Juice unable to sign acts to play the event, SFEM subsequently terminated its five-year contract with the company.

“It is clear that Live Nation desired to terminate the [contract] between SFEM and Juice Entertainment, and to replace it with a new arrangement in which it either completely ousted Juice Entertainment, or at the very least became its partner,” the lawsuit states. “It is also clear that Live Nation knew that its actions would result in precisely this interference.”

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey late last week. Juice is seeking unspecified damages in excess of $75,000.

A Live Nation spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit. New Jersey attorney David Stone, who represents Dorfman and Barrett, could not be reached for comment.