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Band pays debt, gets gear back in time to perform in Springfield

of the Tribune's staff 3/6/97

The Reverend Horton Heat finally left Columbia yesterday afternoon, nearly 15 hours after Boone county sheriff's deputies impounded the band's gear on a court-ordered judgment in a North Carolina lawsuit.

Band leader Jim Heath questioned why law enforcement became involved in a civil dispute and deprived him of his means of livelihood.

But with a show scheduled in Springfield last night, Heath and the band agreed to pay a $12,000 settlement to The Mad Monk, a Wilmington, NC nightclub that sued Heath's band for breach of contract after a canceled 1994 appearance.

The settlement was reached about 4 PM, Columbia lawyer Bogdan Susan said, after discussions with lawyers for the Wilmington nightclub. "We had a severe time problem, and they had to be on the road to Springfield," Susan said of the settlement made by his clients.

About 1 AM yesterday, after the Dallas rockabilly band finished its act at the Blue Note in downtown Columbia, deputies served a court order issued Feb. 27 by a North Carolina judge.

In a lawsuit that Heath's band never answered, the judge issued a $9,510 judgement against the band. After tripling damages and adding interest and fees, the bill came to $30,278.

Under Missouri law, the county sheriff is responsible for seizing property when a debtor fails to pay a civil suit judgement. State law exempts "tools of the trade" from being seized to settle civil lawsuit judgements. The law places a $2,000 ceiling on the value of tools that can be exempted.

Heath valued the instruments and gear at more than $50,000.

That's not the way it is down in Texas, Heath said yesterday.

"The state of Missouri is looking kind of un-American, to me," Heath said.

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