Rap mogul Sean Combs sued liquor conglomerate Diageo Oct. 27 in New York Supreme Court, adding another chapter in a contentious legal battle.
According to the Daily Beast, Combs claims he faced “unlawful retaliation by a powerful international corporation” after he sued the company for racial discrimination in May, alleging that the company did not promote brands Combs was associated with, Ciroc and DeLeon, compared to others.
In the new lawsuit, Combs claims Diageo has blackballed him from the liquor and spirits industry. “Diageo has instructed distributors and retailers of DeLeón not to talk to Mr. Combs about his own brand. Diageo, with its massive power in the industry, is doing everything it can to send a message, not only to Mr. Combs but to others like him: Speak up and you will be punished.”
Robert T. Chin, head of Spirits at Combs Wines and Spirits, claimed in an affidavit that, “Diageo representatives began canceling meetings and failing to timely respond to communications written by Combs Wines’ representatives, which was out of the norm.”
Chin added, “And, for the first time, Diageo took the position that Mr. Combs was not allowed to attend meetings with Diageo about DeLeón.”
“This is yet another attempt by Mr. Combs to extract funds from Diageo after the organization has invested tens of millions of dollars in the marketing and development of DeLeón, in contrast to Mr. Combs’ total investment of $1,000,” Diageo said in a statement to the Daily Beast. “We are disappointed that Mr. Combs continues to damage the DeLeón brand while attempting to litigate a business dispute resulting from his own inability to effectively collaborate and sufficiently contribute. These allegations are completely without merit, and we will defend against them.”
Combs has been accused by Diageo of threatening the lawsuit to get Diageo to pay him $100 million or he would take his claims of racial discrimination public. When Combs brought his suit, the liquor conglomerate dissolved their relationship in response.
Diageo initially wanted to address these issues via an arbitrator as contractually stipulated, but Combs fought to have the case tried.
In September, the spirits conglomerate responded via a court filing that it “disproportionately supported and grown the DeLeón brand despite Combs Parties’ repeated failures to live up to their own commitments.”