Russell Simmons has filed a $55 million lawsuit for fraud and breach of contract over a failed clothing deal - his first lawsuit in 30 years of business. The hip-hop mogul has accused executives at Li & Fung USA of failing to sell or promote his fashion range, American Classics, after signing an exclusive license contract with them in 2007.
Simmons claims it is the first time he has ever had to take legal action but he's determined to win the case and "protect his name". In a statement, Simmons writes, "Over the last 30 years, I've built successful groundbreaking businesses in music, apparel, television, film, jewelry, games and multiple charities and causes. Not once have I ever had to file a lawsuit."
"For the first time in my career I found myself with a partner in Li & Fung, which had executives who willfully and repeatedly put the integrity of my brands at risk... In 2007, Li & Fung USA approached me about obtaining the exclusive license for American Classics, my smart budget mass-market apparel brand... They expressed a false enthusiasm for my flagship brand in order to induce me into licensing them my mass-market brand (sic)."
"After two years of repeated misrepresentations, failed execution and lack of development and support, it is blatantly clear that Li & Fung USA never intended perform its contractual obligations... Therefore I have taken this action to protect my partnerships with retailers and recover millions in damages on behalf of my brands and to protect my name and reputation in the industry."
Simmons is demanding damages in excess of $55 million, according to the suit filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York.