Black Promoters Cite Racist Business Practices In $700 Million Suit

A landmark $700 million lawsuit was filed Thursday in a New York Federal District Court by five African-American concert promoters who are claiming racist business practices by a consortium of talent agencies and booking organizations undercut their promotional abilities.

The suit contends that the defendants -- all of which are predominantly white owned and operated -- have conspired to deny black promoters the chance to handle any white acts or major black artists after they've become successful.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs told MTV News that Prince, Erykah Badu and Toni Braxton are being cited as examples of acts once being handled by black promoters, though are now no longer because of the collusive arrangements of white-run organizations.

Nick Clainos, co-president of Bill Graham Presents, one of the defendants in the case, responded to the suit by saying, "We are so removed from any racial prejudice ... they clearly mispointed when they named us."

Other defendants

in the case include such high-profile organizations as the William Morris Agency, Creative Artists Agency and Premier Talent. No trial date has been set for the case yet, but we'll keep you posted.