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LouFest to pay $1 million to sound company for damaging its reputation

In 2015, LouFest brought a record 50,000 people to Forest Park. 2018 will be a different story.
Jess Luther
St. Louis Public Radio
Music fans crowd the LouFest grounds in 2015. The festival's producers canceled the event in 2018 days before it was to begin.

A St. Louis jury has ordered Listen Live Entertainment, producer of the defunct LouFest festival, to pay a former vendor $875,000 in damages for harming its reputation.

Logic Systems, a Valley Park-based company that provides sound and lighting for concerts, successfully sued Listen Live Entertainment for defamation and malicious prosecution. A separate agreement with the festival’s insurer, Twin City Fire Insurance Co., brings the total to $1 million.

Listen Live Entertainment canceled LouFest in 2018 days before it was set to occur after several vendors, including Logic Systems, dropped out and complained to local news media about unpaid bills. The festival has not returned.

Attorneys for Listen Live Entertainment did not respond to requests for comment.

In a 2019 suit, the event producer accused Logic Systems owner Howard “Chip” Self of sabotaging the festival, with plans to launch a festival of his own in place of LouFest. Listen Live Entertainment later withdrew the suit.

The jury verdict last week brings “vindication,” Self said. But he worries that potential clients could avoid Logic Systems because of media coverage detailing Listen Live’s now-debunked claims.

“People rely on internet reviews and internet documentation a lot more than they have ever in the past,” Self said. “We're in a situation where we're trying to reintroduce ourselves to people and introduce ourselves to new people to keep growing the business. And if they go do a Google search on us, this is what they see. And there's nothing that I can do about it.”

LouFest debuted in 2010 and became a signature cultural event in St. Louis, drawing tens of thousands of music fans to Forest Park each year. It was a showcase for national acts — including Snoop Dogg, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Outkast and the Killers — and an opportunity for local artists to play for big crowds.

Listen Live Entertainment canceled the 2018 event after days of posting reassurances on social media that the festival’s status was secure.

That weekend, many St. Louisans rallied to patronize local vendors of food, drink and merchandise who were stuck with overflow inventory they’d stocked up on for the festival. Robert Plant, one of the prime musical attractions due to play LouFest, played a hastily scheduled show at the Pageant instead.

“A lot of people got damaged in this cancellation by Listen Live entertainment,” said Thomas Magee, an attorney for Logic Systems.

Listen Live Entertainment agreed in March to pay Logic Systems $95,000 in unpaid bills for its work on LouFest and other events.

Magee said his client has not yet successfully collected the money.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeremydgoodwin

Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.