April 13, 2009 — John Rich has made it clear he was very unhappy with the way "Nashville Star" was handled by NBC last summer. Now he's obviously unhappy with one of the show's former contestants, and he's gone to court in a battle that finds both sides accusing the other of libelous behavior.
John filed suit in Nashville last week against Jared Ashley, charging that the 2006 contestant defamed him by going on a Tampa radio station where he publicly claimed John hit him in the face. John insists the accusation is untrue in his court filing, which has been posted online by The Nashville City Paper. John also maintains that Jared purposely conducted the interview the same week that John's solo album, Son Of A Preacher Man, was released, harming John financially because people promoting the project "have not been able to focus solely on the release of his album and, instead, have been asked to respond to Defendant Ashley's defamatory statements."
Jared, in fact, filed his own libel suit against John at the end of March. That suit, also posted online by The Nashville City Paper, contends John had at one time befriended Jared and attempted to help him with his career but that the relationship soured in a series of late-night confrontations related to the bar scene on Nashville's lower Broadway. Jared's suit claims John humiliated him onstage in front of 200 people. Additionally, Jared indicates their relationship went downhill after an incident in which John invited Jared to his house for an after-hours party. Jared says he believed there was a party taking place, but when he tried to enter the home, alarms went off. The two have been at odds since then with John accusing Jared of breaking and entering.
The feud goes public at a time when John's enjoying his first major hit as a solo artist with "Shuttin' Detroit Down" in the Top 15 on the country charts. The suit also comes just six months after John had another altercation with a musician in Los Angeles who took John to court for assault after his nose was bloodied at a Sunset Strip hotel.