Sugarland duo settles with original 3rd band member for $14M

The two members of the country duo Sugarland avoided a nasty public trial with the group’s founding member, Kristen Hall, settling a lawsuit over claims that she was owed an estimated $14 million of the band’s profits after she left what would become an “incredible” money-making “machine” to pursue a solo career five years ago. Or maybe Kristen just liked actual country music and knew that Sugarland was headed for an annoying artistic no-man’s-land of pop and rock.

In July 2008, Kristen Hall filed a lawsuit for $1.5 million against Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles stating that she was being excluded from sharing profits as had been agreed upon after her departure in 2005 to pursue a solo career. Hall claims to have come up with the name of the band and allowed Bush and Nettles “to obtain equal co-ownership of the trademark and service mark”. Hall’s name is listed on the trademark for “Sugarland.”

Sugarland, which last week was named the Country Music Association’s vocal duo of the year, was set to go to trial Monday with founding member Kristen Hall over claims she was owed one-third of the band’s profits even though she quit the band in December 2005.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten signed a court order Friday saying the parties reached a settlement. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Attorneys for the parties could not be reached for comment.
Hall sued Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush claiming that she should have been given a third of the group’s profits — a sum her lawyers said could exceed $14 million.

The complaint said Hall, who founded the band in 2002, set the stage for the group’s success by acting as its manager, marketing officer and tour organizer in its early years. It said she used her personal credit cards to pay for the band’s expenses, and that she “collaborated generously” on the debut album, which sold millions of copies.

Jennifer and Kristian have called Kristen’s lawsuit “nothing more than quitter’s remorse.”

And now, we offer you some photos of Sugarland in earlier, happier times…

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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