Matchbox Twenty's Wyoming rodeo cancellation spurs lawsuit

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The Associated Press
International Herald Tribune
Thursday, April 17, 2008

CHEYENNE, Wyo.: A booking company for Cheyenne Frontier Days sued an animal rights group following a decision by the rock band Matchbox Twenty to pull out of a scheduled performance this summer.

Omaha, Neb.-based Romeo Entertainment Group filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal court in Cheyenne against SHARK, which stands for Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, and its president Steve Hindi.

The lawsuit contends Hindi and SHARK, which is based in Geneva, Ill., used "false and misleading information" and "threats of negative publicity" in its effort to persuade entertainers to cancel their performances at the rodeo.

The lawsuit says Romeo Entertainment has lost more than $100,000 from Matchbox Twenty dropping out of its scheduled July 18 performance.

The lawsuit also blamed SHARK for singer Carrie Underwood's decision to cancel a scheduled performance at Frontier Days in 2006. It did not provide a dollar figure on the loss of the Underwood concert.

The lawsuit seeks a court order to stop Hindi and SHARK from contacting any entertainers that have agreed or may agree in the future to perform at Frontier Days.

"We ask that (fans) please understand that it would be impossible for us to put ourselves in the position of making money from what we believe to be the mistreatment of animals," according to a statement from Matchbox Twenty's lead singer Rob Thomas posted Saturday on the band's Web site.

Matchbox Twenty and Underwood are not being sued by Romeo Entertainment.

Corinne Rutledge, attorney for Romeo Entertainment, declined to discuss why the entertainers were not part of the lawsuit or why no lawsuit was brought when Underwood canceled previously.

Hindi said he looked forward to the case. He said his interactions with entertainers are protected as free speech.

"I think they're going to have a real, real tough time with this case," he said. "We are an animal protection organization, and we're going to keep trying to protect animals."

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