CMJ is now being forced to pay more than half-a-million to former employees – just one of several legal problems for the defunct company.
U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Forrest has now ordered Adam Klein, the owner of the defunct CMJ trade journal and CMJ music festival, to pay $555,000 in unpaid wages. Four ex-employees collectively sued for the compensation in 2016.
Former general manager David Dekeyser and former social media manager Jessica Levy filed the lawsuit. Both alleged that Abaculi Media, headed by Klein and which owns CMJ, stopped paying them in the fall of 2015. Two other former employees, Matthew McDonald and Douglas Sanders are also claimants.
Unpaid wages, liquidated damages, unreimbursed expenses and wage notice violations were combined in the action. Dekeyser was awarded $88,300, Levy $79,800, McDonald $173,200 and Sanders $213,700. They are also entitled to attorneys’ fees and court costs.
Awesome — except for the part about not having that money to pay bills back in 2015.
In a statement released to Pitchfork by Klein’s lawyer, Alex Granovsky
“We have default judgment against Abaculi Media Inc. for all four plaintiffs, and final judgment of damages against Adam Klein individually as to three of the plaintiffs. We intend to prevail at trial on behalf of our fourth plaintiff and enforce judgment against all defendants, including Mr. Klein individually.”
What went wrong with CMJ
CMJ was founded by Robert Haber as a trade magazine called College Media Journal back in 1978. Since that point, it helped to seriously grow college radio and related scenes. The company started the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City, which ran for 35 years.
As early as November 2000, however, the company started laying off employees. Industry conventions sponsored by the company were never quite profitable.
Somewhere around 2014, Klein started a two-year turnaround strategy to save the flagging enterprise. Unfortunately, it never materialized. The now-defunct organization dropped its festival in 2015. It also stopped publishing its college charts in 2017.
This case might be the final nail in the coffin for CMJ.