Save Ferris Ownership Battle Continues To Rage In Federal Court
Powell: Buehler? Buehler?
Andrew Youssef/OC Weekly
Though Save Ferris has been dormant for nearly 14 years, the battle between band members and their former lead singer continues to rage inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.
Save Ferris members Brian Mashburn, Eric Zamora, Bill Uechi, Brian Williams and Evan Kilbourne sued singer Monique Powell in June 2013 for stealing the band's name after she organized a 2013 "reunion concert" at the Orange County Fair without including any other member.
Powell filed a counter lawsuit, denying the allegations, ridiculing the plaintiffs input into the band and claiming they don't own the band name after "having resigned prior to 2003."
During the courthouse battle Powell has incurred a $4,000 sanction for allegedly violating discovery of records obligations.
But the latest, hostile clash is over the plaintiffs' motion to use various experts to inform U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford about the band and the present dispute.
Here is a list of nine proposed trial experts for the plaintiffs:
--Disc jockey Jimmy Alvarez; --Former Save Ferris band manager John Pantle; --Talent buyer Jon Halperin; --Longtime Save Ferris fans Jason Soriano and Shannon Waddell; --Former band members Marc Harismendy, Jose Castellanos, Oliver Zavala and Steve White.
"Each of these non-witnesses has information and opinions concerning Save Ferris that is relevant to the current dispute," plaintiffs' attorney Jordan Susman wrote in a late March court brief. "Plaintiffs expect that the [experts] will testify as to [Powell's] unlawful and unauthorized use of the name Save Ferris in connection with [her] personal concerts creates the express and implied misrepresentations that [her] live performances are authorized, endorsed or approved by the plaintiffs."
R. Christopher Harshman, Powell's attorney, argued that the plaintiffs' list is comprised of individuals "with dubious qualifications" and that he's entitled to receive written reports on the alleged expertise of each expert. He also said their participant in the trial would unnecessarily waste time.
This week, Judge Guilford declined a defense invitation to reject the experts, but said he "has concerns that the plaintiffs are over designating expert witnesses in a way that is overly burdensome to the defendant and the court."
Saying he is "skeptical" all of the individuals qualify as experts, Guilford asked the plaintiffs to provide more information by April 28, and he'll make additional rulings if necessary.
An expected five-day trial is scheduled to begin July 1.
In 1995, Mashburn, Zamora and Uechi created Save Ferris (a reference to the film Ferris Buehler's Day Off) in Orange County and won attention for what they called their "raucous collaborative fusion of ska, punk, reggae and rock."
Powell joined the band after the original singer was fired.
She appeared on all three Save Ferris albums.
The band never registered its name for a federally protected trademark and broke up in 2002 amid personal disputes.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.