What may have been Utah’s first coronavirus-related lawsuit — a dispute that began with the cancellation of Provo tech giant Qualtrics’ canceled X4 management summit — has been settled before it was even served.
Qualtrics had filed suit Thursday in Utah U.S. District Court against Los Angeles-based SME Entertainment Group, a branch of the music conglomerate LiveNation, in a dispute over the fee paid to book the rock band The Killers for X4. Qualtrics was not suing the band, and SME is not the band’s booking agent.
On Saturday afternoon, Qualtrics announced it and SME had settled the lawsuit, “filed arising from the rescheduling of X4 given the rapidly evolving situation and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a news release.
The company said the suit “related to financial obligations owing as a result of the concert cancellation.” In the statement, Qualtrics praised SME, which specializes in booking talent for corporate events, for its “impeccable reputation and ethical standing within the corporate events community.”
“[The Killers] and SME have been completely understanding of the situation and all of us are equally aligned in ensuring the health and safety of The Killers' fans and all X4 attendees,” Mike Maughan, head of strategic initiatives for Qualtrics, said in a statement. “We have a great relationship with both of them and look forward to working together in the future."
The X4 summit was set for March 10-13 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City. In past years, it has drawn 16,000 attendees to hear from such speakers as actor Matthew McConaughey, former first lady Michelle Obama, comedian/talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, and skateboarding legend Tony Hawk. The Killers’ performance was one of the planned highlights of the event.
Qualtrics announced on March 3, a week before the event, that it would postpone the summit to the fall, citing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. In the lawsuit, Qualtrics argued that while other participants had worked to reschedule their appearances, SME continued to “insist on full payment, claiming there is no health risk sufficient to justify cancellation under the agreement.”
Qualtrics’ cancellation came nine days ahead of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announcing the state’s recommendation that all mass gatherings of more than 100 people be canceled or postponed.
If or when Qualtrics reschedules X4 this fall, The Killers are likely to be busy. The band, fronted by former Nephi resident Brandon Flowers, has a new album, “Imploding the Mirage,” coming out on May 29. To support the album, the band is touring Europe from May 26 to July 18, and on Thursday announced a North American tour, from August through October — including an Aug. 19 show at Salt Lake City’s Vivint Smart Home Arena. The band will play in Australia in November and Mexico from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4.