Music Venue Owner Fights Lawsuit 'Blitzkrieg'

Multiple firms claim money owed for work on Backyard, Austin Music Hall

The recently relocated Backyard is one of two music venues at the center of several lawsuits.
The recently relocated Backyard is one of two music venues at the center of several lawsuits. (Photo by John Anderson)

Tim O'Connor, the man behind the Austin Music Hall, the Backyard, and La Zona Rosa, seems to be moving to put his companies' financial houses in order after settling the first of several suits for unpaid construction bills.

O'Connor, owner of music venue management firm Direct Events Inc., has commissioned two major and expensive construction jobs in recent years: first the renovation of the Austin Music Hall and then the relocation of the Backyard after new developments around the old site put space and parking pressures on the venue (see "Off the Record," Music, Oct. 24, 2008). On Aug. 26, attorneys for civil engineers Kiva Inc. appeared in the 345th Civil District Court before Judge Stephen Yelenosky, requesting an injunction preventing management at the new Backyard at Bee Cave from using the sewers Kiva's engineers had installed there. The Buda-based firm claimed it was owed $78,009 plus interest and costs by O'Connor's firm Planet Earth Music LLC, PEM-JTOC, and the John Paul DeJoria Family Trust, which owns part of the property.

When no representatives for the Backyard appeared for the hearing, Yelenosky called O'Connor from the bench and put him on speakerphone. O'Connor, who said there were problems with the summons, accused Kiva and its attorneys of using the threat of forcing him to cancel an Aug. 28 concert by Sheryl Crow to get their money. However, Kiva's attorneys announced the next morning that they had reached a settlement with O'Connor for an undisclosed sum, and Crow's performance went ahead as scheduled.

On the phone to Yelenosky, O'Connor accused Kiva of piling on to a "blitzkrieg" of legal actions against him and his companies. On July 13, Bertram-based Maldonado Construction & Associates filed suit claiming they were still owed $344,801 plus interest and fees for construction work on the Backyard, including roughly $275,000 owed to subcontractors and vendors. Austin-based Sixthriver Architects is suing twice – one for breach of contract and unpaid bills for the Backyard and another over the Austin Music Hall – for a total of $92,4011.40 plus interest and costs. However, Maldonado's lawyers said on Monday that they've put their legal proceedings on hold as they attempt to reach an amicable settlement with the various entities involved with the Backyard. Sixthriver's attorneys said their suits are now in discovery, but they are expecting settlement offers.

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Tim O'Connor, The Backyard, Austin Music Hall, Kiva Inc., Maldonado Construction Associates, Sixth River Architects

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