Marcie Allen, who heads up the music marketing and branding agency MAC Presents, is suing hip-hop agent Cara Lewis and her company Cara Lewis Group (CLG). In a filing obtained by Variety, Allen accuses Lewis of “bullying, threats, false assertions and improper conduct … out of greed and a clear lack of gratitude for [Allen’s] actions towards them in the past.”
At issue is office space that was subleased to Lewis which she refuses to vacate since being asked to leave on Feb. 8 of this year. In addition, Allen cites an agreed-upon 50-50 commission structure and division of expenses for when CLG acts and MAC clients could come together for branding partnerships. MAC is demanding restitution totaling $4.5 million in addition to punitive damages and reimbursement of attorneys fees.
Allen and Lewis (pictured above, left and right, respectively) are described in the May 9 lawsuit as former friends, with the former assisting the latter in setting up her own company following Lewis’ stints as an agent at WME, which ended in 2012, and at CAA, where she worked until 2015. Among the acts on Lewis’ roster are Eminem, Travis Scott, Chance the Rapper, Pusha T, Lil Baby, Questlove and The Roots. Over three years, Allen and MAC helped Lewis set up a new talent agency, and according to the suit, “gave her a structure and safe haven, along with a massive amount of support so that she could get her business off the ground.”
Lewis operates out of MAC’s New York City offices. It is alleged that “over time, [Allen] came to learn the true nature of Ms. Lewis’ character. She began to frequently bully people in the open, shared office space, act out in highly inappropriate [ways] … screaming and ranting on the phone and in the office, demeaning employees —including MAC employees — and generally creating an untenable work environment.”
MAC’s office policy, that the space be kept clean and neat, was also allegedly ignored. “[Lewis] created a pigsty,” reads the complaint, which is accompanied by a summons. “She would disparage Plaintiffs to their staff, and undoubtedly to others in the industry,” it continues, reaching “the point where Ms. Lewis’ abusive conduct could no longer be tolerated, and asked Ms. Lewis to leave the Office Space on February 8, 2019. On February 26, 2019, Ms. Lewis expressed her agreement to leave the Office Space, but now has refused to do so.”
In other words, Allen contends that Lewis is “squatting” and “holding the space hostage in order to leverage unfair demands.”
Most egregious, alleges Allen, is Lewis’ attempts to solicit MAC clients “by contacting them directly using the knowledge and confidential information they learned while sharing space with Allen and MAC, and attempting to convince them to work with Lewis and CLG instead, interfering with MAC’s business.” In addition, Allen suggests that Lewis mischaracterized the nature of their business relationship as a “joint venture” when they were in fact separate businesses.
According to a source, Lewis is seen as having effectively learned the trade from Allen in order to “steal her business.” In legal speak, “private nuisance,” “unfair competition” and “unjust enrichment” are among the claims, in addition to breach of oral contract.
Speaking to Variety earlier this year, Lewis, who was recognized on the Power of Women 2019 New York Impact List, said: “Women seeking to advance their careers must be committed, dedicated, passionate and be recognized as a team player. You must be willing to devote your time, absorb all that you can and demonstrate you can think on your feet.”
Allen and MAC are represented by Christine Lepera, who notes in a statement that the legal recourse was used as a last resort. Said Lepera of the filing in New York State Supreme Court: “Marcie Allen and MAC were compelled to sue, as a last resort, to remove Ms. Lewis from their office space, and for damages caused by Ms. Lewis’s conduct interfering with MAC’s rightful environment and business. Unfortunately, Ms. Allen’s efforts to assist Ms. Lewis have backfired, resulting in harm to MAC’s business that this suit seeks to remedy.”
Update: When reached by Variety, Lewis confirmed that she remains in the 7 West 18th St. office that houses Mac Presents and provided a statement through her attorney that reads as follows:
“We have reviewed the complaint filed by Mac Presents and Marcie Allen. This suit has no merit and was filed by Mac Presents in response to a previously filed suit by C Lewis Group against Mac Presents and we will vigorously defend it. This dispute arises out of significant unpaid loans and commissions that Mac Presents and Marcie Allen owe to C Lewis Group. We have no further comment at this time.”