Dean Guitars sued by Dimebag Darrell's estate – company responds

Dimebag Darrell
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/ImageDirect)

Dean Guitars has responded to the estate of Dimebag Darrell filing a lawsuit against its parent company, Armadillo Enterprises, for allegedly breaching the terms of their contract. 

Dimebag's partner Rita Haney announced the termination of the late Pantera guitarist's posthumous endorsement deal with Dean Guitars on behalf of the estate yesterday (18 August). The estate's statement also accused the company of filing “unauthorised and fraudulent trademark registrations” for its Razorback and Stealth electric guitar body shapes.

Now Dean Guitars' CEO & President, Evan Rubinson, has released a statement on behalf of the company in response, calling the claims "baseless" and "without any merit". 

Ms. Haney’s claims — across the board — are baseless, without any merit, and not grounded in reality

Evan Rubins Dean Guitars' CEO, President

“We have always treated Dime and his brother Vinnie with the utmost respect and loyalty," says Rubinson. "We have enjoyed a long-standing, 17-year relationship with Dime and Vinnie, and continue that relationship with Vinnie’s estate on the ddrum side. We are shocked and saddened to see the actions that Ms. Haney has taken after both the Abbott brothers have tragically passed away, and we wish her the best in her future endeavors.

“However, it is unfortunate that Ms. Haney has allowed her unrealistic demands and accusations to dictate the future of the Dimebag Darrell legacy in the absence of Dime’s immediate family," he added. "Dean Guitars is proud to have played a role in ensuring Dime’s legacy not only survived, but thrived over the past 17 years. We have stood by the estate through good and bad. Ms. Haney’s claims — across the board — are baseless, without any merit, and not grounded in reality. We will allow the full truth to come out as the legal process takes its course.” 

Haney's own statement posted on the website of Dimebag Darrell demanded a jury trial in response to the complaints laid out in the suit. It has been filed at the US District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division and its grievances date back to when Abbott signed his original endorsement deal with Dean back in November 2004. The month before he was murdered onstage in Columbus, Ohio while touring alongside his brother Vinnie Paul Abbott with their band Damageplan.

Knowing Darrell's wishes and seeing them written down on paper, once again, after all these years solidifies that he would not have stayed

Rita Haney


 “After much consideration, it is with great sadness that I announce the longstanding relationship between Dimebag and Dean Guitars is over,” Haney wrote. “Unfortunately, we were forced to file a lawsuit against Dean Guitars… It was necessary for us to end Dime’s endorsement of Dean Guitars to continue to honour and celebrate his legacy the way he deserves, and in the way he had laid it out.”

"We do not make this decision lightly and it is with a heavy heart that we share this news with you, Dime's loyal fans," Haney continued. "As you know, after signing the deal with Dean Guitars in 2004, Dime was ecstatic to finally be working with the one and only, Mr. Dean Zelinsky, who's been gone from the company since 2008. Darrell had voiced several times that it was like going home where he belonged. It was something he was enormously proud of.

"I have spent days, re-reading through all of Darrell's guitar notes, lists, letters, and drawings (some not yet released). Knowing Darrell's wishes and seeing them written down on paper, once again, after all these years solidifies that he would not have stayed. I want to see Dime's words followed through and to have his legacy reach the level he intended.

Rita Haney

Rita Haney in 2009 (Image credit: Will Ireland/Metal Hammer Magazine/Future via Getty Images/Team Rock)
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(Image credit: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images)

Classic interview with Dimebag Darrell, July 1994

"I made several attempts to amicably settle our dispute with Dean Guitars. However, it became clear to me that Dimebag's relationship with Dean Guitars had come to an end when the new CEO of Dean Guitars told me that Dime has been dead for 16 years and they could not make the money they once did (so basically, he's used up?) and then continued on to tell me I should go somewhere else. Well – we will!

"Moving forward, our goal will be to ensure the rightful and respectful celebration of Dime's legacy and the indelible mark he and his music made on this world," the statement adds. "It is with absolute conviction that we say that this can no longer happen whilst continuing to partner with Dean Guitars.

"As fans, we hope that you feel as we do. Our love for Dime has not wavered in the 16 plus years since his passing and he is still as relevant to us today, despite what we have been told by Dean Guitars. We want to capture the 'spirit of the deal' that was discarded by Dean Guitars, like it should have always been done. In this spirit, we soon hope to have more positive news to share with you regarding the future of 'Dime guitars.'"

Dean Guitars

(Image credit: Dean Guitars)

In January 2021 Dean Guitars announced  it was reissuing the Dimebag signature Dime Razorback Rust model – a previous limited US custom electric guitar. It's one of a number of Dimebag models currently listed on the Dean Guitars website, including the ML, Razorback and Stealth Series. 

5 songs guitarists need to hear by… Dimebag Darrell

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.