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Do ya think I’m guilty? Stewart must pay

Singer was unable to perform due to throat surgery
/ Source: The Associated Press

A federal jury decided Wednesday that Rod Stewart should pay a Las Vegas casino $2 million plus interest for a canceled show in December 2000.

The seven-member panel found that Stewart should not have kept an advance he was paid for the New Year’s weekend show that he said he was unable to perform at the Rio hotel-casino because of throat surgery several months earlier.

One of his lawyers, Kerry Garvis Wright, said outside U.S. District Court that the 60-year-old singer will appeal.

Steve Morris, a lawyer for the Las Vegas casino and parent company Harrah’s Entertainment, said he was “delighted and relieved” by the verdict.

Jury foreman Stevan Jorgensen, 56, said the case boiled down to a misunderstanding of the contract between the British rocker and the casino.

“We felt it was only fair,” he said, “that if Mr. Stewart didn’t perform the concert that he should give the money back.”

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The jury deliberated about three hours Wednesday after nearly two weeks of testimony in the civil breach-of-contract lawsuit.

Stewart was paid $2 million in advance in January 2000 for the December 2000 show.

He and his doctors testified he was later diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had two tumors surgically removed in May 2000. One was cancerous, one was benign.

Stewart, who was not in the courtroom Wednesday, said that he didn’t fully recover his trademark raspy voice in time for the Las Vegas show.

He did recover in time to begin a world concert tour in June 2001, and estimated he has performed 150 shows since. But he said Harrah’s would not let him reschedule the December 2000 show.

Harrah’s chief executive Gary Loveman testified that a makeup show on any other date could not provide the same monetary benefit to the casino as a show on New Year’s weekend.

The interest on the $2 million was not determined.