Earlier this week, news broke that a Florida woman was surprised to find out that she was being ordered to pay country superstar Luke Combs $250,000 after he filed a lawsuit against the woman’s Amazon store.
However, it was a complete surprise to Luke Combs too… because he had no idea.
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 Combs promptly took to social media to address it, saying that he had spent hours early on the morning of December 13th trying to figure out what the hell was going on, saying that he was “completely and utterly unaware of this.”
Combs 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:
“Apparently, this woman Nicol has somehow gotten wrapped into that, and that makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.”
Combs got Nicol’s phone number and spoke to her that morning, saying that she was “shocked” by the lawsuit. He was extremely apologetic about the situation, and says that he would be sending her $11,000 to help her out during this stressful time – double what was in her Amazon account.
He has also since formally dismissed the $250,ooo lawsuit, so Harness is no longer on the hook to pay the country superstar six figures, either:
“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.”
Combs explained that he would also be making his own tumblers and putting them in his official store, with all the proceeds going to Nicol to hopefully help with her medical expenses.
And now, Nicol is speaking out, telling her local Tampa WFLA News Channel 8 station that Luke was a “very nice guy,” and was very understanding of the situation when they spoke over the phone.
She added that she “still can’t believe” he called her and is doing so much to help her get back on her feet after not only the lawsuit, but the aforementioned medical situation:
“I didn’t answer the call because I didn’t know who it was, and then before you knew it I got a text saying ‘This is Luke Combs, I really want to talk to you.’
And I was like, no way, get out of here. He was a very nice guy, very understanding. I explained to him what happened, he understood. I still can’t believe he called me and he is doing these things for me.
She also told the local station that she didn’t realize some of the photos and logos she used for her tumblers were against copyright law, which she also admitted she has obviously learned a lot about over the past several days:
“I definitely learned about the copyright laws, and I know I will be more careful moving forward on what I post for sale on my store.”
Combs’ team is also helping her regain access to Amazon sellers account, which is another kind gesture that will hopefully help Nicol in paying off some of her loans and aforementioned medical expenses.
It turned out to be a really feel good story, confirming what we already know about what a genuinely kind man Luke Combs is.
He clearly goes out of his way to help his fans, even if, like in this case, he certainly didn’t have to, and I can’t wait to hopefully see footage of when these two finally get to meet in person at one of his upcoming concerts.
You can watch more from Nicol and the WFLA update below.