New Castle News

Closer Look

November 27, 2012

Judge won’t consolidate Lettermen lawsuits

MERCER — The legal claims filed by Tony Butala and a former Lettermen singer now in state and federal courts will not be consolidated in federal court.

U.S. District Court Judge David S. Cercone, Pittsburgh said this month he has no jurisdiction to step into the claims filed in state court.

Mark Preston filed two breach of contract suits against Butala in March 2011 and January in York County.

Butala, of Sharon, the lone member of the trio that peppered the charts with a steady stream of romantic ballads in the early 1960s, sued his former singing mate in February in Mercer County Common Pleas Court alleging breach of contract, copyright and trademark infringement and unfair compensation. Preston had Butala’s suit transferred to federal court because trademark and copyright claims are alleged violations of federal law.

In July, Butala asked Cercone to usurp jurisdiction of Preston’s York suits because the claims in his suits are “closely related” to the contract claim in Butala’s suit.

The claims in all of the suits “form part of the same case of controversy,” Butala said.

On Nov. 16, Cercone said he cannot exercise jurisdiction over a state lawsuit unless there is a federal claim in the suit. Preston’s suits do not assert violations of federal law, he said.

Preston was with the group at two different times, the last running from Sept. 1, 2005, to Aug. 4, 2011.

Butala alleged Preston violated his employment contract by representing himself as a former member of the group, using portions of Butala-owned Lettermen performances on his website and Facebook page, recording Lettermen songs, and referring to sweaters in his post-Lettermen group.

Preston acknowledged some of the actions Butala accused him of, but said the contract cannot be enforced because Butala failed to pay him.

In response to copyright and trademark allegations, Preston said Butala did not arrange the songs or instrumentation, and does not own the rights to the instrumentation, arrangements and contents of Lettermen songs and video performances.

The Lettermen, including Donovan Scott Tea, who introduced Preston to Butala, perform Christmas shows at 1:30 and 7 p.m. Dec. 13 in Packard Music Hall, Warren, Ohio.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Closer Look
  • Local pastor helping fire victims

    A local pastor is opening up donation avenues to help two families who lost their homes to fire this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • First Energy to replace transmission line

    FirstEnergy Corp. has plans to rebuild a power transmission line between the West Pittsburg plant and a Mahoningtown substation.

    April 18, 2014

  • school.jpg Union to return assistant principal post

    The Union Area School District will have a new administrator when the 2014-15 school year starts. The board voted 8-0 Wednesday night to hire an assistant principal. Debra Allebach was absent.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Calen.tiff Callen gets state honors

    Robert Callen has been selected to receive a state award for his contribution to local government in Pennsylvania. Callen, 58, executive director of the Lawrence County Regional Council of Governments, received the Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bobosky.jpg Gas holdouts unconvinced of safety

    When Suzanne Matteo and her husband, Martin, bought their house on four acres in Pulaski Township they had a plan. They would grow a huge vegetable garden, raise lots of flowers and a few chickens and enjoy the fresh air and quiet.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Miller.jpg Wilmington superintendent discusses common core

    The Wilmington district has no reason to fear new Pennsylvania Core standards, superintendent Dr. Michelle Miller said. She talked about the standards to approximately two dozen residents at the school board’s monthly pre-meeting Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shreck.tiff Schreck reappointed Shenango superintendent

    Dr. Michael Schreck has been reappointed as Shenango’s superintendent for a five-year term. The school board approved his reappointment by an 8-0 vote Monday. Nicholas Manolis was absent.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • vote.jpg Congressional candidate disqualified

    Commonwealth Court has removed a Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District seat from the May 20 primary ballot. Judge Bernard L. McGinley has invalidated the nomination petitions of Mel A. Marin of Sharon.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Up through the ground comes education cash

    Democrats running for governor seem to be competing to convince voters they will dip deepest into the pockets of gas drillers to replace $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett has cut from education spending.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Shenango passes tax abatement

    Shenango Township supervisors unanimously approved a tax abatement for Blackwatch Properties LLC when they met Thursday.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Section Teases
Must Read
Continuous Super Bowl Coverage