By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY — In the wake of last spring’s zombie invasion, Amesbury Sports Park is still working to recover – millions of dollars in potential lost business that is.
The owners of Amesbury Sports Park have filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the organizers of the “Run for Your Lives” zombie 5K, which was held in early May and drew more than 10,000 runners to the park.
The sports park is alleging that Reed Street Productions, a Maryland-based company that organizes the race, promised them an exclusive three-year deal to promote the races nationally before dragging its feet writing up a contract and then backing out of the deal after the Amesbury race was completed.
Event Partners LLC, the name of the Amesbury-based business partnership firm that operates the Amesbury Sports Park, is seeking more than $5 million in damages from Reed Street, saying it turned down similar opportunities from other companies and then was never fully compensated for its work after the relationship was ended. Event Partners’ managers are Marycarol Fowler and Kevin Jacques.
The “Run for Your Lives” is a 5K obstacle race in which participants sign up as either runners or zombies. Each runner wears a belt with flags, representing their health, and the goal is to finish the race without being “killed” by the zombies that patrol the route and try to steal the survivors’ flags.
Reed Street came up with the idea for the race in the spring of 2011 and proposed the possibility of holding a race at the sports park to Event Partners in May of 2012, the complaint says. The deal was later expanded so that Event Partners would also handle all food, beverage and parking nationwide in addition to hosting a race in Amesbury.
According to the lawsuit, Reed Street assured Event Partners that a written contract was being worked on, Taking Reed Street at its word, Event Partners turned down similar opportunities from other possible partners as a result, the managers say.
While waiting for the contract, Event Partners said they continued to promote the races, securing national beer and Coca-Cola sponsorships, handling security bids for the upcoming races and preparing for the races to come in the fall. Event Partners said they kept pressing Reed Street about the contract throughout that time, but said they only heard excuses explaining the hold-up.
“At one point, Reed posited that perhaps their attorney was deceased,” the complaint says.
Right before the Amesbury race in May, Reed Street did produce a single-event contract for the Amesbury race only, the lawsuit says. Reed Street allegedly explained before the contract was signed that the deal was in addition to, and not in replacement of, the three-year exclusive deal previously agreed to but still unsigned.
The race went ahead and was a great success, but barely a week later, Reed Street allegedly called and terminated the relationship, according to the complaint.
After cutting ties with Event Partners, Reed Street went on to hold the rest of its scheduled races, which Event Partners said they had already helped them prepare for. Event Partners said it never received any compensation for its efforts in those races, nor did it receive full compensation for the races before the Amesbury one. It didn’t even receive payment for the Amesbury race itself until months later, the lawsuit says.
Event Partners alleges that even in the absence of a signed contract, there was a clear understanding between the two parties that there was an agreement in place.
“The defendants then breached every significant term in the contract between the parties causing losses, damages and lost economic opportunity to the plaintiff and resulting in the unjust enrichment of the defendants,” the lawsuit says.
Reed Street has denied all of Event Partners’ allegations except for the fact that the two companies had some business dealings and that Event Planners didn’t receive payment for the Amesbury race until a few months after the race.
Michael Tucker, an attorney with Healey, Deshaies, Gagliardi and Woelfel in Amesbury which is representing the sports park, said the case is still in its early stages and that there will still be discovery and depositions held before the case goes to trial. He added that Reed Street has had similar complaints filed against it before, notably by a company in Baltimore that helped the production team with its first race.
“They had an agreement, they waited for a contract and for various reasons, a contract never got signed,” Tucker said. “So I don’t feel like we’re alone in this experience.”