Diddy dismisses racial discrimination suit against Diageo

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Diddy has withdrawn his racial discrimination lawsuit against Diageo after accusing the spirits company of marginalizing his Cîroc vodka and DeLeón tequila brands.

The embattled music mogul, whose once-celebrated career has hit rocky shoals since allegations of sexual assault were leveled against him last year, has resolved his ongoing dispute with the British beverage company.

“Sean Combs and Diageo have now agreed to resolve all disputes between them,” Diddy and Diageo said Tuesday in a joint statement to The Times.

“Mr. Combs has withdrawn all of his allegations about Diageo and will voluntarily dismiss his lawsuits against Diageo with prejudice,” the statement said, meaning that he cannot file them again.

The joint statement added that Combs and Diageo now have “no ongoing business relationship, either with respect to Cîroc vodka or DeLeón tequila, which Diageo now solely owns.”

A document titled “Stipulation Discontinuing Action With Prejudice” was filed Tuesday in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, The Times has confirmed. The document, obtained by The Times, was signed by attorneys for Combs Wines and Spirits LLC, Diageo North America Inc. and third-party defendant CE Spirits LLC and said that the actions, cross-claims and counterclaims among them have been “hereby discontinued” with prejudice and “without costs to either party as against the other.”

According to Diageo, in 2007 the Bad Boy Entertainment founder entered an agreement with Diageo, which co-owned his liquor brands, to market the premium vodka brand Cîroc and paid him nearly $1 billion over the years.

Last June, Combs, 54, sued Diageo claiming that the spirits giant “kneecapped” his Cîroc and DeLeón labels’ sales growth for almost a decade and starved them of resources while better marketing other brands such as Don Julio and Casamigos.

Diddy’s Combs Wines and Spirits LLC alleged in the lawsuit that Diageo treated his DeLeon tequila and Cîroc vodka as inferior “Black brands” or “ethnic brands” that should be targeted to “urban” consumers.

The hip-hop mogul sought a court order “to provide the equal treatment” that he alleged Diageo “contractually promised” and intended to pursue “billions of dollars in damages due to Diageo’s neglect and breaches” in a separate lawsuit.

Diageo filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit days later and announced that it was cutting ties with Combs on their Cîroc partnership and the DeLeón joint venture. The company claimed that the “I’ll Be Missing You” rapper had breached their contract.

In November, after Diddy’s ex-girlfriend Casandra “Cassie” Ventura accused him of rape and abuse in a lawsuit — and three more women came forward with additional accusations of sexual abuse — Diageo filed a letter with the court that said “these public and disturbing accusations against Mr. Combs are already harming DeLeón by virtue of its association with Mr. Combs to the tequila brand.” (Diddy and Ventura settled the lawsuit one day after she brought the abuse allegations to court; he has denied wrongdoing in the other cases.)

The withdrawn lawsuit is the latest action plaguing the famed producer. In November, Combs stepped down from his position as chairman of Revolt TV, the media company he co-founded in 2013.

Last week, his representative confirmed to the Hollywood Reporter that he would not attend the annual Grammy Awards next month despite being nominated for his “The Love Album: Off the Grid” after a two-decade nominations drought.

Times staff writer Stacy Perman contributed to this report.



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