Two original members of Sugar Ray are suing singer Mark McGrath for allegedly “misappropriating” the band's trademark, “unlawfully” diverting money to a mysterious shell corporation and engaging in a “bitter campaign to destroy” their professional reputations, according to an Oct. 15 lawsuit made public this afternoon at the request of OC Weekly.
Those are the claims contained in a 29-page lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court by Charles Stanton Frazier and Matthew Murphy Karges, who also allege that fellow band member Rodney Sheppard, as well as accountants and Chip Quigley, the band's longtime manager, were “complicit in McGrath's willful, oppressive and malicious conduct.”
According to the lawsuit, a moody, selfish McGrath threw the band, known for their popular 1997 song “Fly,” into turmoil beginning almost a decade ago by “personal issues, outrageous compensation demands, erratic behavior and/or non-band related obligations”–including sabotaging the band's ability to tour because he took a television job as a co-host of Extra.
McGrath's TV gig inflated his self-importance and caused the band to cease touring from September 2004 to June 2008, and when performances were eventually arranged, he violated the band's “long-standing compensation structure” by claiming he would not participate in any event in which he was not “guaranteed [a] minimum of $10,000,” according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs say the band lost “millions of dollars” because McGrath's petty demands blocked engagements. They also allege his ego prompted him to insist he receive first-class air travel while the other members sat in economy seats.
After McGrath got booted from Extra in 2008, he returned to the band, pushed for a new album and “hijacked the process” by excluding Frazier and Karges in the final production stages, a move that made Music for Cougars a target of unimpressed music critics, according to the lawsuit.
Later, McGrath “became increasingly irate” and commonly flew into “hysterics” during discussions with band members, including at a 2011 Disney show in Florida “when McGrath became enraged and unleashed a profanity-laced tirade on Frazier,” the complaint alleges.
The plaintiffs, who are represented by prominent Irvine attorney Aaron M. McKown, aren't happy that McGrath employs his Twitter feed to make “defamatory statements” about them and used a 2013 Rolling Stone interview to air “patently false” statements regarding their status as active members of the band that launched in the 1980s.
Though Frazier and Karges are demanding that a future Orange County jury decide the case, they didn't listed a specific dollar amount of damages they seek as compensation.
Lawyers for McGrath and the other defendants–Sheppard, Quigley, MARO Inc., Provident Financial Management, Emerald Hill Management Inc. and Kingdom Entertainment Group LLC–have not yet filed responses to the complaint.
The case was assigned to veteran Superior Court Judge Franz Miller in Santa Ana.
“I've done a lot of douchey things,” he told writer Andy Greene. “I understand why people don't particularly like me.”