SOUL OUT PRODUCTIONS LLC v. ANSCHUTZ ENTERTAINMENT GROUP INC LLC AEG LLC LLC (2020)
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
SOUL'D OUT PRODUCTIONS, LLC, an Oregon limited liability company, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ANSCHUTZ ENTERTAINMENT GROUP, INC., a Colorado corporation; Anschutz Corporation, a Delaware corporation; Goldenvoice, LLC, a California company; AEG Presents, LLC, a Delaware company; Coachella Music Festival, LLC, a Delaware company, Defendants-Appellees.
Decided: May 12, 2020
Before: SCHROEDER, WATFORD, and HURWITZ, Circuit Judges.
Sara Kobak, Esquire, Attorney, Nicholas Fremont Aldrich, Jr., Esquire, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt P.C., Portland, OR, for Plaintiff-Appellant Casey M. Nokes, Cable Huston LLP, Portland, OR, Justin Bernick, Hogan Lovells US LLP, Washington, DC, for Defendants-Appellees
Soul’d Out Productions, LLC (Soul’d Out) appeals from the district court’s dismissal of its tortious interference and unlawful competition claims against Anschutz Entertainment Group, Inc., et al. (collectively, AEG). To the extent the district court dismissed those claims for lack of standing, we think the court erred. Soul’d Out’s allegations satisfy the Article III requirements for standing: Soul’d Out alleged a concrete and particularized injury, namely the loss of lucrative performance contracts with artists under contract with AEG; Soul’d Out also alleged that AEG’s wrongful conduct caused that injury; and a judgment in Soul’d Out’s favor could, either through damages or injunctive relief, redress the harm. See Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560–61, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992). Although Soul’d Out is not a party to the artists’ contracts with AEG, we have previously determined that an injured party may assert tort claims predicated on a contract’s alleged invalidity, despite not being a party to the contract. Ixchel Pharma, LLC v. Biogen, Inc., 930 F.3d 1031, 1035 n.5 (9th Cir. 2019).
To the extent that AEG attempts to defend the district court’s dismissal on the basis of prudential limitations on standing, we hold that those, too, are inapplicable. It is true that a plaintiff may not bring suit solely to vindicate the rights of third parties. See Kowalski v. Tesmer, 543 U.S. 125, 129, 125 S.Ct. 564, 160 L.Ed.2d 519 (2004). But here, Soul’d Out is seeking to vindicate its own rights—namely its alleged right to enter into contracts with artists free from AEG’s wrongful interference. No plaintiff is better suited to assert the tort claims alleged here, and there is therefore no prudential reason to deny Soul’d Out standing.
We express no opinion as to whether Soul’d Out has adequately stated claims for relief under either Oregon or California law, or which State’s law applies to its claims. Those issues remain open for the district court to resolve in the first instance on remand.
REVERSED and REMANDED.
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