Luke Combs is profusely apologizing for suing a disabled fan for $250,000, saying he was “completely and utterly unaware” of the lawsuit in his name — or the judgement that was issued in Illinois court — until he was shown a local news piece of the crying fan.
A Florida woman with congestive heart failure was making enough money to pay her bills by selling homemade drink tumblers and t-shirts through Amazon. As a big fan of country singer Luke Combs, Nicol Harness started offering a Combs-themed tumbler after going to his concert in Tampa over the summer. But now a federal court in Illinois is suing her on Combs’ behalf for selling counterfeit merchandise.
With ongoing health problems, the Amazon store was Harness’ only source of income. She bought artwork online and sold 18 Luke Combs-themed tumblers for $20 each — totaling $380. Unbeknownst to her, a federal court in Illinois sued several individuals for selling counterfeit Luke Combs merchandise, and now Harness finds herself ordered to pay Combs $250,000.
Harness had no idea anyone had even sued her until she returned home from a hospital stay to discover she had no access to the funds earned through her Amazon storefront. She finally discovered the notice of the lawsuit, dated back in October — in an email in her junk mail folder. That notice explained she had 21 days to respond to the allegations, but as she says she was in the hospital at the time, she hardly had the chance.
“It’s very stressful — I don’t have money to pay my bills. I just want this resolved. I didn’t mean any harm to Luke Combs. I quit selling the tumbler,” she said.
On Tuesday, Tampa-based news outlet WFLA told Harness’ story, with consumer investigator Shannon Behnken reaching out to the attorney representing Combs in the lawsuit, as it was unknown whether Combs was even aware of the lawsuit. As it turns out, he wasn’t.
Wednesday morning, Luke Combs took to social media after discovering he had won a $250,000 judgement against a Florida woman who had made $380 selling fan merchandise using his likeness. He says he was “completely and utterly unaware” of the lawsuit in his name, or the judgement that the Illinois court had handed down. He was only made aware of it when his attention was directed to a TV news interview with the distraught woman.
“We do have a company that goes after folks — only, supposedly, large corporations operating internationally that make millions and million of dollars — making counterfeit t-shirts, things of that nature, running illegal business,” said Combs. “Apparently this woman, Nicol, has somehow gotten wrapped into that, and that makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.”
Combs says he called Nicol Harness personally with plans to send her $11,000 to help meet her immediate needs, which is double the $5,500 she reported locked in her Amazon store account following the court ruling. The singer also said that he plans to sell his own tumbler through his official merch store and will direct all proceeds from the item to helping with Harness’ medical bills.
“I spoke to her this morning. She told me that (…) she was absolutely shocked by this. I’m so apologetic, talking to her. It makes me sick, honestly, that this would happen, especially at the holidays,” said Combs in his video posted to Instagram. “She was never supposed to be involved in anything like this. No fan should ever have to be involved in anything like this.”
WFLA reports that even though lawsuits in the state of Florida require a defendant to be served in person with physical paperwork, the law recently changed in Illinois and allows a defendant to be served via email — seemingly without any confirmation that the defendant received that email.