News / The Northern Virginia Daily/nvdaily.com
Tareq Salahi lawsuit reaches settlement
By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Tareq Salahi's $50 million personal injury lawsuit and divorce is nearly over.
Charles B. Roberts, Salahi's attorney, disclosed late Friday that a secret agreement with former wife Michaele Salahi, the rock band Journey, Journey guitarist Neal Schon and the entertainment company Nomata, Inc. ends the bitter legal battle between the groups.
"Mr. Salahi is very thrilled with the resolution to the case," Roberts said in a telephone interview Saturday. Roberts added that the settlement did not include DD Entertainment LLC, a Hollywood talent agency listed as one of the defendants. Roberts said the part of the suit involving DD Entertainment remains intact, and a hearing Monday in Warren County Circuit Court will be conducted as scheduled.
In a press release issued Friday, Tareq Salahi described himself as "thrilled to close this chapter in my life and move forward in a positive manner. I always maintained that my claims were valid and would be recognized as such. I wish Michaele the best."
Roberts said Tareq Salahi's announced intention to seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2013 played no role in the decision to settle.
"I think the parties were not looking forward to a long and potentially protracted legal battle, and I think they were all interested in bringing a reasonable resolution to the case, and I think that was the main motivating factor," Roberts said.
Roberts added that the settlement also ends an $850,000 counter lawsuit Michaele Salahi filed against her former husband. The suit contends he defamed her character during a TV interview in September when he called her "a groupie slut."
The intensely personal nature of the suit was also evident in Salahi's claim that Schon e-mailed him a photo of a male body part and that he received a phone call from someone who boasted,of sleeping with his wife. Attorneys representing Schon and the entertainment companies strenuously objected at a hearing to having the photo placed in the court file without sealing it.
The battle over the photo was one of the few wins for Tareq Salahi in court this year.
Judge Dennis L. Hupp sided with the defendants in a ruling that effectively scrapped the personal injury lawsuit in circuit court in early July. Roberts will be appearing before Hupp on Monday in an effort to persuade him to let a jury decide the case.
Tareq Salahi's lawsuit argues that his marriage was also a husband-wife business partnership. His wife's decision to leave their home at 4410 Scenic Drive in September and join Schon and Journey on a concert tour ruined several TV show projects they were pursuing together, he said.
The Salahis found a path to celebrityhood by crashing an Obama White House state dinner in 2009. The ensuing uproar propelled them into joint appearances on several TV reality shows.
Tareq Salahi contended in his lawsuit that Michaele Salahi's affair with Schon was a publicity stunt orchestrated to revive Journey's sagging concert ticket sales.
"Having been involved in the reality television business for several years, the defendants knew that a public affair would generate interest in both of them and immediate income for Neal Schon and Journey," according to the complaint filed by Tareq Salahi.
DD Entertainment, the suit's sole remaining defendant, is identified in court documents as a publicist for the Salahis that now works for Schon and Michaele Salahi.
Roberts said DD Entertainment "did not offer to settle the case" and Tareq Salahi said in the press release that he believes the company still owes him money "based on stories, pictures, appearances and shows sold over the years."
"We would like the opportunity to look at their books and see how much they owe him, and the only way we're going to do that is through the lawsuit," Roberts said.
Roberts said in the press release that he hopes that Hupp "in his wisdom will recognize that this case is a simple tort and contract case and that even if there are doubts, the matter should be heard by a jury."