Tree Town Fri 20

2018 Tree Town Music Festival.

FOREST CITY | A Tennessee company is seeking more than $1.7 million in damages in a fraud and civil conspiracy lawsuit against the co-founders of Forest City's Tree Town Country Music Festival.

Premier Global Production, Inc., alleges Basis Live, LLC and Basis Marketing, Inc., both of Forest City, as well as Dave DeWaard and his son Gary DeWaard, both of Forest City, and a third individual named Andrew Thompson conspired to defraud their company by not paying for services provided for events, including a Blake Shelton stadium concert last year at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Both Basis companies are registered to Gary DeWaard, according to state records. 

The defendants' actions caused substantial financial damages to the company, which is seeking a jury trial, according to the lawsuit Premier filed on Aug. 3 in Chancery Court for Davidson County in Tennessee.

Emily Harper Mack, an attorney with the Nashville office of Bone, McAllester and Norton, the law firm representing Basis in the Premier lawsuit, told the Summit-Tribune she was not inclined to comment until the firm files a response to the suit.

The DeWaards founded the Tree Town Music Festival in Forest City in 2014, which has been held annually on Memorial Day weekend since then. In January, Gary DeWaard said their company, Basis Entertainment, would no longer be managing that festival, which is now under new management. 

While still involved with Tree Town, the DeWaards began working with other concerts and music festivals.

The Premier lawsuit states the company entered into an agreement with Basis on Feb. 17, 2017, for staging gear and services for an event at Penn State, with Basis agreeing to pay $421,700. 

Basis also agreed to pay Premier $421,700 for gear and staging for the Blake Shelton concert, which was held on Sept. 16, 2017. 

Premier officials were concerned about providing the gear and staging for the Penn State event because Basis already owed them $345,000 from prior events, according to the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit states the defendants told Premier officials they could have the food and beverage sales from the Penn State event in order to get the gear and staging. 

However, the defendants failed to disclose they would not be able to give concession proceeds to Premier because Basis owed Penn State money for rent, according to the lawsuit.

Premier didn't receive any money from Basis for the Penn State event and the defendants "gave one excuse after another" while the Blake Shelton concert date approached, the lawsuit states. 

Basis allegedly produced documents showing ticket sales from the Colorado Springs concert, claiming they had not been paid the ticket sales proceeds of $162,000 but once they received the funds they would pay that amount to Premier. 

Lawsuit: Founders of Forest City's Tree Town stole $275K in ticket revenue from Florida festival

"The truth was that they (Basis) had been paid the ticket proceeds" and Premier "relied upon the false representations and provided the services promised under the parties' agreement," the lawsuit states. 

Basis did not pay Premier for services provided for the Colorado Springs concert, according to the lawsuit.  

Basis has not filed a response to the lawsuit. A judge has granted an extension until Sept. 21, as the claims are complex and "involve numerous transactions that span over the course of several years between numerous parties."

The motion states defendants and their lawyers "have been diligently investigating these claims," but need more time to evaluate them and respond.

Basis and the DeWaards are facing another lawsuit from a country music festival in Kissimmee, Florida. The Runaway Country Music Festival alleges another of the Dewaards' companies -- Basis Entertainment, which does business in Florida under the name Beachtown, LLC -- stole $275,000 in revenue from online ticket sales.

No criminal charges have been filed in either case. 

Photos: Tree Town 2018

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