Yesterday, on August 16th, the estate of the late “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott announced they filed a suit against Dean Guitars pertaining to damages stemming from alleged misuse of Abbott’s name and likeness as well as an alleged breach of written agreement. Prior to the legendary guitarist’s passing, Dean Guitars and Abbott entered into an endorsement agreement that led to the creation of various Dimebag-branded guitars and merchandise.
Abbott was the co-founder and lead guitarist of the metal rock band Pantera and is widely regarded as one of the best guitarists of all time. He was tragically killed by a fan while performing in Columbus, Ohio in 2004. Abbott’s estate is now led by Rita Haney, who was Abbott’s longtime girlfriend and personal assistant. After being appointed steward of Abbott’s affairs in June 2020, Haney allegedly became upset about the aforementioned Dean Guitars agreement.
In April 2014, the Abbott estate reinstated the original agreement with Dean Guitars. Haney is now alleging that the newer terms were less favorable than the prior agreement from 2004.
The official complaint alleges that Dean Guitars did not honor multiple terms of the newly reinstated agreement including that allegation that Dean Guitars reduced royalty rates via the new agreement.
Dean Guitars also allegedly failed to provide imported and domestic Abbott guitar models for the estate’s promotional and personal use. Per the complaint, the reinstated endorsement agreement expired on April 30th, 2020 and was followed by a six-month grace period that ended on October 30th, 2020.
Abbott’s estate accuses Dean Guitars of a plethora of infringements including the alleged selling of guitars and pickups with Abbott’s name and likeness as recently as July 2021, as well as breaching a written agreement.
In a complaint posted to the official Dimebag website, Haney claims that it was necessary to end the Dean Guitars agreement to “continue to honor and celebrate” Abbott’s legacy and that the estate’s goal “will be to ensure the rightful and respectful celebration of Dime‘s legacy and the indelible mark he and his music made on this world.”
In response to the allegations, Dean Guitars CEO and President Evan Rubinson issued a short statement denying Haney’s claims. Rubinson claimed that he has always had the “upmost respect and loyalty” to both Abbott and his brother Vinnie. He states that Haney’s claims are “unfortunate” and that he is proud of Dean Guitars’ legacy with the Abbott estate.
“We have stood by the estate through good and bad. Ms. Haney’s claims — across the board — are baseless, without any merit, and not grounded in reality. We will allow the full truth to come out as the legal process takes its course.”