PITTSBURGH – A nationally known Pittsburgh-area tattoo artist has filed a complaint in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, alleging breach of partnership and fraud in connection with a 2017 tattoo expo.
Sarah J. Miller, owner of Wyld Chyld, filed the lawsuit against Gregory A. Piper and Baller Inc. in June.
Miller is a nationally known tattoo artist who was runner-up on Season Two of the Spike competition reality program “Ink Master.” She also appeared in season three and season seven and several special episodes.
In the fall of 2016, Piper approached Miller about the possibility of the two companies hosting an annual tattoo exposition in Pittsburgh.
According to the complaint, Piper and Baller knew that a popular local brand like that of Miller and Wyld Chyld was needed to host a successful tattoo exposition in Pittsburgh.
Miller claims the two sides struck a partnership agreement that allowed Piper to use Wyld Chyld’s name to market 2017 and 2018 editions of the Bleed Black and Gold Pittsburgh Tattoo Expo.
The inaugural event was held Feb. 16-19.
According to the complaint, after the pair had reached an agreement, Piper contacted Miller and asked her to drive to Manassas, Virginia, to discuss the partnership and expo.
At that Oct. 24, 2016, meeting, Miller alleges that Piper offered to “buy” the expo. Her investment would be capped at $50,000, which she would recoup by receiving a percentage of the profits of the expo.
Miller maintains that when she asked for time to review the agreement, Piper insisted she execute the deal immediately or forfeit the $5,000 she had contributed to the expo as well as her ability to participate in the event.
Miller asked that she be able to review the agreement with an attorney, but Piper allegedly maintained that doing so wasn’t necessary because the agreement of ale only included "standard provisions” such as a forum selection clause identifying Virginia for any disputes.
In an objection filed with the court filed July 18, Piper claims that he sent Miller the agreement of sale for review in advance of the meeting.
Piper further maintains that Miller never attempted to negotiate any of the provisions of the agreement in advance of the meeting, including the forum selection clause and she expressed her consent to the terms by signing the deal.
In the complaint, Miller also claims that Piper knew that the 2017 Expo would not yield sufficient profits for Wyld Chyld.
Miller claims in the complaint that Piper failed to share equally in the costs, profits and losses associated with hosting the expo and alleges that he conned Miller into contributing more than $50,000 while he contributed nothing and took more than $20,000 from expo funds, including a “salary” paid to Piper.
Piper maintains that the expo realized a modest loss and Miller should have known that there was a chance the expo would not turn a profit in its first year. He claims that at some point after the event, she became frustrated that the event didn’t turn a profit and she disputed the terms of the sale.
The complaint further states that Piper made a number of misrepresentations in order to induce Miller into contributing to the expo even though he knew he couldn’t deliver on the promises he was making.
Miller is seeking damages, costs and an injunction barring Piper and Baller Inc. from using her name and brand in connection with the 2018 expo.
In an objection, Piper maintains the complaint should be dismissed due to improper venue, claiming that the sale agreement forum selection clause mandates that the dispute must be filed in the courts of Fairfax County, Virginia.
Miller is represented by Nicholas J. Godfrey of Dinsmore & Shohl LLP in Pittsburgh.
Piper is represented by Papernick & Gefsky LLC in Pittsburgh.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Court case number GD-17-8731