Yesterday, a Florida woman was surprised to find out she owes country superstar Luke Combs after he filed a lawsuit against the woman’s Amazon store. And speaking of surprised… so was Luke Combs.
Nicol Harness, of Pinellas, Florida, suffers from congestive heart failure and supports herself by selling custom tumblers and t-shirts on Amazon. And after attending a Luke Combs concert this summer, she decided to make some tumblers with his stickers on them and sell them in her store.
She says she ultimately made less than $400 from the custom merch, selling 18 tumblers for $20 each. But after a recent hospital stay, she was surprised to find out that she couldn’t access her Amazon storefront – because she had been sued by the country music superstar, and the judge had ruled against her before she even knew about the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Illinois, one of several that Combs has filed against vendors selling counterfeit merchandise.
In the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Whiskey Riff, Combs alleges that the infringing merchandise causes him irreparable harm, deceiving customers by using his trademark without authorization. While we weren’t able to see the full list of those who were named in the lawsuit, it appears to target many counterfeiters in China who run large networks selling unauthorized merchandise.
But according to Harness, she was served with the lawsuit via an email, which she says went to her junk folder – and she didn’t know about it until she was trying to figure out why she couldn’t get into her Amazon account. (A lot of jurisdictions require complaints to be served in person, but Illinois allows service electronically).
The judge then entered an order prohibiting Harness and the others from selling any merchandise with Combs’ trademark, and ordering them each to pay $250,000 in damages to Combs.
The story started making headlines, and this morning, Combs took to social media to address it, saying that he had spent hours trying to figure out what was going on and that he was “completely and utterly unaware of this.”
And if you’re asking how this could happen, it’s pretty simple. When you’re one of the biggest touring artists in the world, you have an entire team of people handling things for you… we’re talking a day to day manager, an agent, a booking agent, touring manager, a label, a PR firm, legal, maybe a personal assistant… and they don’t always communicate with each other regarding every detail.
Combs says that his manager, Kappy, reached out to the news station to get more information, and confirmed that they do have a company that goes after what he thought was only big “corporations operating internationally” that make millions selling counterfeit merchandise with his name and likeness:
“We do have a company that goes after folks, only supposedly large corporations operating internationally that make millions and millions of dollars making counterfeit t-shirts, things of that nature, running illegal businesses.
Apparently, this woman Nicol has somehow gotten wrapped into that, and that makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.”
Combs says he got Nicol’s phone number and spoke to her this morning, saying that she was “shocked” by the lawsuit.
He was extremely apologetic about the situation, and says that he is sending her double the amount of money that’s currently locked in her Amazon account, adding up to $11,000 in total:
“I’m so apologetic, talking to her, it makes me sick, honestly, especially at the holidays. I can’t imagine being in her shoes. She told me there’s $5,500 locked up in her Amazon account, I’m gonna double that, send her $11,000 today, just so she doesn’t have anything to worry about.
She was never supposed to be involved in anything like that, no fan should ever have to be involved in anything like this.”
Nicol previously stated that, obviously, she doesn’t have $250,000 laying around to pay for the suit, but it sounds like that won’t be a problem now.
Combs explained that he is planning to make his own tumblers and put them in his official store, and all the proceeds made from those will go to Nicol to hopefully help with her medical expenses.
He also invited her to a show this year, saying he wants to “give her a huge and say sorry in person”:
“She got in trouble apparently for making tumblers, so I’m gonna make my own tumbler that’s gonna go up today.
I’ll keep you posted on that, but all of that money is gonna go to Nicole and her family to try to help with her medical bills. Hopefully that can help her out, and again, this is unbelievable…
This is not something I would ever do, this is not the kind of person I am. I’m not greedy in any way, shape or form. Money is the last thing on my mind, I promise you guys that. And I invited Nicole and her family out to a show this year, so I could give her a hug and say sorry in person.”
Luke Combs is good people, and it sounds like he’s doing everything in his power to make things right. Of course, we knew from the very beginning he had nothing to do with this, but Luke is proving once again why he is a man of the people, going above and beyond for his fans.
Their ain’t a better dude in country music… that’s for damn sure.