A former county official in rural Idaho sued Endeavor on Wednesday, alleging she is owed more than $190,000 in unpaid loans arising from a troubled country music festival.
According to her complaint, Bonnie Layton was the economic development director for Elmore County, Idaho, when she came in contact with the organizers of the Mountain Home Country Music Festival. She helped scout a location for the event, made introductions with landowners, and guided them through the process of getting government approvals.
Layton states that she also became personally financially involved in the festival, making short-term loans to the organizers on four occasions to pay deposits for country music artists. The loans were made to WCMC LLC and Anne Hankins, the festival president. According to the suit, WCMC was an alter ego of Endeavor, and that Co-CEO Patrick Whitesell was named as a manager of WCMC in its annual report. Endeavor is the parent company of WME and IMG.
The festival encountered setbacks due to inclement weather, according to local news accounts. In 2017, a lightning storm forced the cancellation of headliner Keith Urban and his opening act. The previous two years, festival-goers experienced extremely hot and dusty conditions. In August, the organizers festival will not return in 2019.
According to Layton, only two of the four loans to the festival organizers were repaid. She says that in August, she was sent two checks totaling about $200,000, but that both were returned due to insufficient funds. The loans were set to mature in 2016 and 2017, and carried a 15% penalty in the event they were not repaid by the maturity date, in addition to 12% interest. Layton is seeking $190,000 in principal plus interest and fees.
An IMG spokesperson said the company had not been served, and declined to comment on pending litigation.