Diddy’s Ugly Legal Battle with Diageo Over Cîroc Vodka & DeLeón Tequila Placed on Hold Until Next Year

Diddy legal battle Diageo
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Diddy legal battle Diageo
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Photo Credit: Christopher F. Orr

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ ugly legal battle with alcohol giant Diageo will not move forward until next year following a panel of judges granting the company’s request for a stay of the lawsuit.

A lawsuit filed by Sean “Diddy” Combs accusing alcohol company Diageo of treating his brands unfavorably because he’s Black has been placed on hold until 2024. On Tuesday, a panel of New York judges granted Diageo’s request for a stay (a pause in legal proceedings) amid efforts to convince the appeals court to send the case to private arbitration. Diddy’s attorneys called the request a “desperate attempt” to delay facing justice for discriminatory conduct.

“Once the appellate court considers the actual merits, we are confident that they will reach the same conclusion as two separate judges already: that Diageo can’t avoid a public trial,” said Diddy’s attorney, John Hurston.

Combs first sued Diageo in late May with allegations that the company failed to uphold its commitment to diversity and inclusion, neglecting his liquor brands, Cîroc Vodka and DeLeón Tequila, because he is Black. Diddy’s lawyers allege in the suit that the company “cloaking itself in the language of diversity and equality is good for Diageo’s business, but it is a lie.”

At the time, a spokesperson for Diageo released a statement, writing, “This is a business dispute, and we are saddened that Mr. Combs has chosen to recast this matter as anything other than that. Our steadfast commitment to diversity within our company and the communities we serve is something we take very seriously. We categorically deny the allegations that have been made and will vigorously defend ourselves in the appropriate forum.”

Among the claims in the lawsuit, Diageo’s President of Reserve and New Business, Stephen Rust, told Diddy that his being Black was in fact “part of the reason Diageo limited the neighborhoods where the Combs brands were distributed,” and that “things would be different” were he Martha Stewart.

Following that lawsuit, Diageo filed a countersuit and ended its business relations with Combs, who filed yet another suit against the company, accusing them of “illegal retaliation,” alleging that Diageo has no legal basis to end his brand deals.

“While Diageo has self-servingly misrepresented the goals of Combs’ lawsuit in the press, its attempt to retaliate against Combs for asserting his legal rights will not work in court,” wrote Diddy’s attorneys.