Dean Guitars CEO Evan Rubinson has accused Rita Haney of making "slanderous" comments about him in an attempt to "incite riots and death threats" against him personally.
On Monday (August 16),Haney, the longtime girlfriend and trustee of the estate of the late PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, announced that she was cutting ties with Dean Guitars after 17 years with the company. She also revealed that she had filed a lawsuit against Dean, alleging fraud, breach of written agreement and false endorsement, among other claims.
In a statement posted on Dimebag's web site and social media, Haney wrote: "It became clear to me that Dimebag's relationship with Dean Guiars had come to an end when the CEO of Dean Guitars told me that Dime has been dead for 16 years, and then could not make the money they once did...and then continued on to tell me I should go somewhere else… Well...we will!" Haney went on to accuse Dean of continuing to promote and sell Dimebag-related guitars and merchandise even after the expiration of their endorsement deal. She also blasted Evan Rubinson as "incredibly disrespectful and often times belligerent to the legacy" of Dimebag.
"Moving forward, our goal will be to ensure the rightful and respectful celebration of Dime's legacy and the indelible mark he and his music made on this world," Haney added. "It is with absolute conviction that we say that this can no longer happen whilst continuing to partner with Dean Guitars."
When a regular BLABBERMOUTH.NET commenter tweeted out an article from this site about the lawsuit and included the message "if the [Dean] CEO actually told Rita: 'Dime has been dead for 16 years,' he might want to walk that back, bad comment in a dialogue to the girlfriend of the guy being discussed and his legacy, @Pantera were A leaguers", Evan responded: "Total slanderous comment & devoid of reality. This is Rita's desperate attempt to incite riots & death threats against me personally. I challenge her to release voice recordings of me ever disparaging or degrading Dime or Vinnie (the latter of which was a very close friend)."
Dimebag and his brother Vinnie Paul co-founded PANTERA. When PANTERA broke up in 2003, they formed DAMAGEPLAN. On December 8, 2004, while performing with DAMAGEPLAN at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Dimebag was shot and killed onstage by a troubled schizophrenic who believed that the members of PANTERA were stealing his thoughts.
Dimebag's affiliation with Dean goes back to when he was 14. He played Dean guitars throughout PANTERA's heyday in the mid-1990s. He switched to Washburn Guitars late in the decade, a time when Dean Guitars had practically disappeared from the American market. But when Dimebag's contract with Washburn ended, he inked an endorsement deal with Dean, which Elliot Rubinson had revived. Dimebag died three weeks later at the age of 38.
Evan Rubinson initially responded to Haney's lawsuit in a statement on Tuesday (August 17). In the statement, he wrote: "We have always treated Dime and his brother Vinnie with the utmost respect and loyalty. We have enjoyed a long-standing, 17-year relationship with Dime and Vinnie, and continue that relationship with Vinnie's estate on the ddrum side.
"We are shocked and saddened to see the actions that Ms. Haney has taken after both the Abbott brothers have tragically passed away, and we wish her the best in her future endeavors. However, it is unfortunate that Ms. Haney has allowed her unrealistic demands and accusations to dictate the future of the Dimebag Darrell legacy in the absence of Dime's immediate family.
"Dean Guitars is proud to have played a role in ensuring Dime's legacy not only survived, but thrived over the past 17 years. We have stood by the estate through good and bad. Ms. Haney's claims — across the board — are baseless, without any merit, and not grounded in reality. We will allow the full truth to come out as the legal process takes its course."