NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A New Orleans artist is suing Ducks Unlimited, saying the conservation group broke an agreement to use a poster he created to raise money for restoration of a coastal island following the 2010 BP oil spill.
Ducks Unlimited hasn't yet responded in court to the lawsuit, filed last week. But an attorney for the organization denies that there was ever a written agreement to use its share of the proceeds for the island.
Attorneys for Michael Hunt and his business, NOLA Fine Art, say in the lawsuit that Ducks Unlimited agreed in 2012 to donate 20 percent of the proceeds from a poster he created to restore Cat Island, a brown pelican breeding ground. On the poster is a seaside scene of pelicans in a nesting area.
"DU commissioned NOLA Fine Art and Michael Hunt to create, produce, store and sell the Cat Island poster. It was agreed the poster would also commemorate DU's 75th anniversary with the DU logo appearing prominently at the bottom of each print," the lawsuit, filed last week, said.
The poster was to be produced with the understanding that NOLA Fine Art would give DU 20 percent of the proceeds and DU would donate that money to Plaquemines Parish for Cat Island's restoration, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that Hunt believed he could make a profit while raising money and awareness of the island's cause.
Anticipated gross revenue was $370,000, meaning 20 percent - $74,000 - was to go to DU for donation to Cat Island restoration under the arrangement outlined in the suit.
Hunt, however, says in the lawsuit that he stopped marketing the poster after selling only a few because he learned that the money was not really earmarked for Island restoration. While his lawsuit doesn't specify a damage amount, it says he "has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars" because Duck's Unlimited broke their agreement.
Hunt's lawsuit claims that in July 2012, a day before a scheduled media event to promote the project, the conservation organization's Louisiana representative, Robert Garrity, was contacted by Hunt's assistant and "admitted that he did not know how much of the money DU was expecting to receive from the print sales would actually go to the Cat Island project, and stated that DU had scientists who dictated which projects received money."
Hunt's fears, according to the filing, included the possibility that failing to provide the money for Cat Island as advertised could violate state and federal law, damage Hunt's reputation and betray the trust of Gov. Bobby Jindal, who had agreed to sign some of the more expensive prints.
Stephen Babcock, a lawyer representing Ducks Unlimited, said in an interview Tuesday there was an agreement for Ducks Unlimited to get 20 percent of the poster proceeds as a licensing fee. Babcock said he knows of no written agreement for 20 percent of the proceeds to go to Cat Island. "I haven't seen that anywhere in writing. I haven't seen it in any emails," Babcock said.
The suit also alleges that Garrity told Hunt at an August 2012 meeting that BP wanted some marketing materials changed to remove or downplay references to BP because the oil giant was a contributor to Ducks Unlimited. BP, however, is not a defendant in the lawsuit. The company did not respond to a Tuesday query about the poster.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
An old country road outside Mandeville, has seen a doubling of traffic accidents and huge delays since an interchange with Interstate 12 opened up. The state has come up with three proposals to makemore>>
An old country road outside Mandeville has seen a doubling of traffic accidents and huge delays since an interchange with Interstate 12 opened up.more>>
The Saints want to establish playoff position in the NFC South, redeem themselves from the embarrassment of Monday night's debacle in Seattle and prove that Who Dat fans are the loudest.more>>
The Saints want to establish playoff position in the NFC South, redeem themselves from the embarrassment of Monday night's debacle in Seattle and prove that Who Dat fans are the loudest in the sporting world in an indoor stadium.more>>