Country Star Luke Combs Rectifies Legal Mishap with Fan Over Unauthorized Merchandise Sales
In a heartfelt move, country singer Luke Combs has issued an apology to Nicol Harness, a disabled Florida woman, after she was ordered to pay a hefty $250,000 in a copyright lawsuit initiated by the singer’s legal team. The lawsuit was part of a broader crackdown against companies selling unauthorized merchandise featuring Combs’ image or name.
Combs, who expressed feeling “sick to my stomach” upon learning of Harness’s predicament, took to Instagram on Wednesday to announce that he had instructed his attorneys to remove her from the lawsuit filed in an Illinois federal court. Additionally, Combs pledged to send $11,000 to Harness, who had sold 18 tumblers featuring the singer’s name and likeness on Amazon, grossing $360.
The country star clarified that his legal action was intended for major companies engaged in unauthorized merchandising, not individual fans running small businesses. Combs emphasized that greed was not his motivation, and he expressed regret for the unintended consequences faced by Harness.
In a further gesture of goodwill, Combs announced plans to sell his own tumblers, with proceeds aimed at covering Harness’s medical bills. The disabled woman, suffering from heart disease, had recently faced hospitalization. Combs also extended an invitation for Harness and her family to attend one of his upcoming concerts so that he could personally meet her.
The incident came to light when a Tampa TV station, WFLA, reported on Harness’s plight, leading to widespread attention. Harness explained that she had inadvertently missed the lawsuit served via email, which resulted in a default judgment and the subsequent $250,000 penalty. Amazon, complying with the court order, froze $5,500 in Harness’s account.
Harness, a devoted fan who had begun selling Combs-themed tumblers after attending one of his concerts, expressed her distress in an interview with WFLA. Combs, upon learning of the situation early Wednesday, promptly reached out to Harness to rectify the error.
In an emotional Instagram video, Combs conveyed his sincere apologies, expressing sympathy for Harness’s situation, particularly during the holiday season. Harness, in turn, shared her surprise and relief when Combs personally called her, describing him as a “very nice guy” who understood her predicament. The singer’s actions have resonated positively, emphasizing the importance of distinguishing between corporate entities and individual fans in legal actions.
Country star Luke Combs issues a public apology to a Florida woman ordered to pay $250,000 for using his likeness on fan merchandise she sold online and promised to pay her back double the money that was frozen in the legal action. https://t.co/86QPmhkkpi
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 14, 2023