Will.i.am. Photo: Wikimedia commons/ Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com

Does a production company owe Will.i.am $300,000 for a loan the Black Eyed Peas singer made to have a London concert filmed for a TV series?

Before a court can even get to the question of who owes whom how much, a Los Angeles judge Tuesday will hear arguments over whether the case should be heard in California or New York.

The judge already seemed to side with the superstar singer, saying he is inclined to reject a defense motion to dismiss Will.i.am’s lawsuit.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Raphael wrote in a tentative ruling Monday that the case was properly filed in California rather than New York. The judge said private and public interest factors favor keeping the case in California, but he’s scheduled to hear arguments from attorneys Tuesday before issuing a final decision.

The suit, filed Oct. 28, states that a New York Live manager proposed filming the singer’s concert last May 11 at the Royal Albert Hall in London as part of its proposed television series “Landmarks: Live in Concert.”

The 42-year-old entertainer was “precisely the kind of superstar that New York Live needed to promote the series and secure a television deal,” the suit states.

New York Live claimed to have a deal with PBS to broadcast the series and offered to pay the singer $250,000 if he agreed to allow the concert to be filmed and for permission to use his name and likeness to promote the series, the suit says.

However, as the May 11 date approached, the deal was still not finalized and New York Live lacked the money to pay the crew to film the concert, according to the suit. In reliance on promises to repay the money back shortly, the singer says he wired the $300,000 to New York Live.

The filming of the concert went forward as scheduled, but New York Live has yet to repay the loan, according to the lawsuit.

Defense attorneys moved to dismiss the action, saying the parties’ agreement calls for disputes to be decided in New York courts. However, the singer’s lawyers maintained that the selection of New York as the filing jurisdiction was not mandatory and that a presumption existed that California was the preferred location because the plaintiff resides there.

The judge tentatively agreed with the entertainer’s attorneys.

“Even if the agreement is valid, the court finds that the purported forum selection clause is merely permissive…,” Raphael wrote.

The judge said private and public interest factors favor California because all the parties reside or have offices in California and all the relevant negotiations and transactions occurred here.

–City News Service

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