Diddy’s ongoing legal battle with Diageo has taken a new turn, with the mogul now suing the alcoholic beverage company for “unlawful retaliation.“
In a lawsuit filed in the New York Supreme Court on Friday, Diddy accuses Diageo of “unlawful retaliation by a powerful international corporation.” Diddy had been working with Diageo for 15 years before he accused them of racial discrimination in May, which led to the end of their business relationship.
In his newest lawsuit, Diddy makes even more allegations, including that Diageo is “doing all it can to retaliate” against him and his liquor brands, such as “blackballing” him in the spirits industry.
The lawsuit, obtained by The Daily Beast, alleges that “Diageo has instructed distributors and retailers of DeLeón not to talk to Mr. Combs about his own brand. Diageo, with its massive power in the industry, is doing everything it can to send a message, not only to Mr. Combs but to others like him: Speak up and you will be punished.“
Robert T. Chin, Head of Spirits at Combs Wines and Spirits, added in an affidavit that after Diddy filed his initial lawsuit in May, he was forced out of the marketing process for DeLeón.
“Diageo representatives began cancelling meetings and failing to timely respond to communications written by Combs Wines’ representatives, which was out of the norm,” Chin said in his affidavit, “And, for the first time, Diageo took the position that Mr. Combs was not allowed to attend meetings with Diageo about DeLeón.“
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In his initial accusations, Diddy claimed Diageo refused to handle marketing and investments for DeLeon properly while using its resources on other tequila brands such as Casamigos and Don Julio. Diddy attributed the neglect to racism and stated that things have gotten to a point where the business has been stifled.
A little over a month after Diddy filed his first lawsuit, Diageo announced they severed ties with the mogul.
“We are saddened that Mr. Combs has chosen to recast a business dispute as anything other than that and chosen to damage a productive and valued partnership,” Diageo reps said in a statement. “Mr. Combs’ bad-faith actions have clearly breached his contracts and left us no choice but to move to dismiss his baseless complaint and end our business relationship. Mr. Combs has repeatedly undermined our partnerships and threatened to publicly defame Diageo if we did not meet his unreasonable financial demands.“
In a statement to Complex, Diddy’s attorney John C. Hueston replied: “Diageo attempting to end its deals with Mr. Combs is like firing a whistleblower who calls out racism. It’s a cynical and transparent attempt to distract from multiple allegations of discrimination. Over the years, he has repeatedly raised concerns as senior executives uttered racially insensitive comments and made biased decisions based on that point of view.“
He continued, “Diageo even acknowledged the problem by agreeing in his contract to treat DeLeon the same way it treated their other tequila brands. He brought the lawsuit to force them to live up to that contract, and instead they respond by trying to get rid of him. This lawsuit and Mr. Combs are not going away.“
It remains to be seen how this legal battle will unfold, but it is clear that Diddy is not backing down. He is determined to hold Diageo accountable for its alleged racism and retaliation.