The estate of Dimebag Darrell is suing Dean Guitars. According to a statement posted by Dimebag's longtime partner and trustee of his estate Rita Haney, the lawsuit stems from what the estate of Dimebag Darrell deems as a failure "to continue to honor and celebrate" the legacy of Dimebag. Update: Dean Guitars has responded to the suit. Read their response at the end of this story.
The suit alleges that after Dimebag's murder, the executors of his estate became his brother, Vinnie Paul, and his father, Jerry Abbott. The suit claims that Dean’s late CEO, Elliot Rubinson, manipulated the surviving Abbots to "water down" the amount that would be owed to Dime's estate.
The suit goes on to claim that the current Dean CEO, Evan Rubinson (Elliot's son), is “incredibly disrespectful and often times belligerent" to Dimebag's legacy, and has failed to make payments to the estate for contracted use of Dime's likeness. The suit claims Dean attempted to “register the trademark for Razorback and the Razorback guitar design, both of which were the sole property of Abbott,” according to the original agreement with Dean. Dean also failed to provide the estate with models of endorsed guitars.
The full statement by Rita Haney reads:
"After much consideration, it is with great sadness that I announce the longstanding relationship between Dimebag and Dean Guitars is over. Unfortunately, we were forced to file a lawsuit against Dean Guitars on Monday, August 16th, for the reason set forth in the complaint that may be viewed at www.dimebagdarrell.com. It was necessary for us to end Dime's endorsement of Dean Guitars to continue to honor and celebrate his legacy the way he deserves, and in the way he had laid it out.
"We do not make this decision lightly and it is with a heavy heart that we share this news with you, Dime's loyal fans. As you know, after signing the deal with Dean Guitars in 2004, Dime was ecstatic to finally be working with the one and only, Mr. Dean Zelinsky, who's been gone from the company since 2008. Darrell had voiced several times that it was like going home where he belonged. It was something he was enormously proud of.
"I have spent days, re-reading through all of Darrell's guitar notes, lists, letters, and drawings (some not yet released). knowing Darrell's wishes and seeing them written down on paper, once again, after all these years solidifies that he would not have stayed. I want to see Dime's words followed through and to have his legacy reach the level he intended.
"I made several attempts to amicably settle our dispute with Dean Guitars. however, it became clear to me that Dimebag's relationship with Dean Guitars had come to an end when the new CEO of Dean Guitars told me that Dime has been dead for 16 years and they could not make the money they once did.. (so basically, he's used up???) and then continued on to tell me i should go somewhere else. Well… we will!
"Moving forward, our 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. It is with absolute conviction that we say that this can no longer happen whilst continuing to partner with Dean Guitars.
"As fans, we hope that you feel as we do. Our love for Dime has not wavered in the 16 plus years since his passing and he is still as relevant to us today, despite what we have been told by Dean Guitars. We want to capture the 'spirit of the deal' that was discarded by Dean Guitars, like it should have always been done. In this spirit, we soon hope to have more positive news to share with you regarding the future of 'Dime guitars.'
"Dime loved his fans so very much, in return, you guys have never wavered in your loyalty and love for him. We cannot thank you enough for your continued support.
"Long live Dimebag Darrell! Getcha pull!"
According to the lawsuit, Haney alleges Dean CEO Evan Rubinson has been "incredibly disrespectful and often times belligerent to the legacy of Abbott," and that "Dean Guitars had taken complete advantage of Abbott over the years and refused to continue a business relationship with Dean Guitars unless Dean Guitars was willing to right its wrongs." The lawsuit also alleges that Dean never paid Dimebag properly, and breached their endorsement deal.
Dean Guitars CEO Evan Rubinson responded with a statement of his own.
“We have always treated Dime and his brother Vinnie with the utmost respect and loyalty. We have enjoyed a long-standing, 17-year relationship with Dime and Vinnie, and continue that relationship with Vinnie’s estate on the ddrum side. We are shocked and saddened to see the actions that Ms. Haney has taken after both the Abbott brothers have tragically passed away, and we wish her the best in her future endeavors.
“However, it is unfortunate that Ms. Haney has allowed her unrealistic demands and accusations to dictate the future of the Dimebag Darrell legacy in the absence of Dime’s immediate family. Dean Guitars is proud to have played a role in ensuring Dime’s legacy not only survived, but thrived over the past 17 years. 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.”