A friendship was severed after two Lawrence music pros faced the sword of justice on The People's Court.

Mock Trial 

A friendship was severed after two Lawrence music pros faced the sword of justice on The People's Court.

Plenty of the people who go the TV-justice route to settle their small claims and property disputes could just as easily take their troubles to Jerry Springer. But not all court TV is trashy. Why, none other than the esteemed Johnny Rotten once let Judge Judy settle a conflict. And recently, two prominent members of the Lawrence music community took their conflict to the most famous court in all of TV land — The People's Court.

In that episode, which aired here April 18, the plaintiff was a round-faced guy who looks like Drew Carey: That was Sean Ingram, founder and president of Lawrence company Blue Collar Industries. The defendant was Dean Edington, a pasty cat with a five o'clock shadow. A concert promoter and metal know-it-all, he's another stalwart of the Lawrence scene.

People’s Court: Ingram vs. Edington, part 1

The case concerned $1,801.38 worth of hats, hoodies, T-shirts and pins that Edington ordered for the band he manages. That band, though it wasn't named on The People's Court, is the Esoteric, whose debts piled up in the aftermath of a house fire a few years ago.

After collection agencies failed to retrieve payment from Edington, Ingram says that a friend suggested The People's Court. Ingram was sure he'd win. And if Edington still couldn't pay, the TV show would pony up on the defendant's behalf.

People’s Court: Ingram vs. Edington, part 2

"This seemed like an amazing deal to us," Ingram later wrote on his blog. "We get to go to New York for a weekend, he looses [sic], we get paid, and He [sic] doesn't even have to pay the bill. Win win situation!"

People’s Court: Ingram vs. Edington, part 3

Our friends found Judge Marilyn Milian to be pretty crotchety, as when Ingram casually referred to the "merch." "Is that the cool word?" Milian quipped in an English teacher's tone. Later, she accused Edington of trying to "fuzz it up" as he discussed the band's unpaid bills. She and the bailiff joked that guys like Edington — music industry types — are inherently unable to speak honestly.

"He's not built that way," the bailiff said, laughing.

And yet, Milian ultimately ruled in Edington's favor.

Ingram knew all along that Edington was just an agent for the band, she said, meaning Ingram couldn't hold him responsible for the band's debt. Case closed, commercial break.

But is the resolution complete?

Immediately following the trial, Ingram fumed to a People's Court interviewer that he intended to sue the band. He hasn't, and the Esoteric still hasn't paid up.

"We don't really care about the money anymore," Ingram recently told me.

Even though he won, Edington doesn't feel very vindicated. He used to consider Ingram a friend and still thinks that, as the leader of the band Coalesce, Ingram created some of the most relevant music ever to come out of this area. But now, Edington says, even listening to those songs is weird.

What really rankles Edington is Ingram's Lawrence.com blog, I Am This, seemingly created for the sole purpose of sharing the People's Court story, which Edington had hoped would remain a bit of lesser known personal trivia.

In his blog, which includes YouTube videos of the episode, Ingram recounts the experience without identifying Edington or the Esoteric. "And by the way," he writes, "I'm saying 'manager' and 'the band' because I agreed to not name any names, or try to get publicity for the company I work at."

Edington says the blog violates his agreement with Ingram — after it went up, he started getting calls from Web sites and reporters who recognized him. "This whole thing makes me so sick, that he went that route and embarrassed me publicly," Edington says. He calls the blog and the video posts "a publicity stunt."

Ingram says Edington needs to lighten up. After all, Ingram was the one who lost on The People's Court. "We went on the thing as a farce," Ingram says, "but it's still frustrating to get taken advantage of and have a TV judge rule that way, too."

He hopes that one day he and Edington can laugh about all this together. Edington says fat chance: "We're probably most likely never going to be friends again."

Considering how much good they've both done for Lawrence and Kansas City music over the years, though, it would be nice if they could patch things up.

Maybe Dr. Phil could help with that.

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