Back in April, when we had a long phone conversation with Tareq Salahi, he said that in his pursuit of a financial settlement from his estranged wife Michaele’s new lover, Neal Schon, and his band, Journey, he was prepared for a “full-blown” jury trial. He vowed he would call “everyone” to testify—“Journey, the whole band, their wives, their girlfriends.” Yesterday, a judge in Warren County, Virginia denied him that opportunity. Now Salahi says he’s not deterred; he will take the case to the Virginia Supreme Court.
The Warren County court dismissed “with prejudice” Tareq Salahi’s $50 million lawsuit against Michaele, Schon, and Journey. A similar complaint was dismissed in April, though this week’s ruling is the first time with prejudice.
Schon and Journey hired a Fairfax law firm, Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, to represent them. One of the lawyers, Bruce M. Blanchard, said he is not concerned about the appeal to the Supreme Court, which he says is more an attempt than a fact. “In Virginia, in a civil case, you don’t get an appeal as a matter of right. It’s a petition to the Supreme Court, who will decide whether to hear it, send it back to the trial court, or dismiss it.” Blanchard believes trial judge Dennis Hupp gave Salahi every opportunity to prove the merits of his case during a two-hour hearing. “In this case, you had a conscientious trial judge who was fully engaged and patient.” He said Salahi’s “only hope” is if the Virginia Supreme Court throws him “a life preserver.” He does not expect that to happen.
Tuesday morning Salahi sent The Washingtonian a statement that should, because of its classic Salahi-ness, be printed in full: “I am thankful this case will have the opportunity to be reviewed by the Virginia Supreme Court. We look forward to the chance for our case to be heard by a jury of my peers from within the local community where I grew up and in which Michaele and I lived as husband and wife. It was outrageous that Journey knew that I would be extremely emotionally distraught when my wife and business partner became missing after Neal Schon lured her into his entertainment business. Today’s decision to proceed to the Virginia Supreme Court is another step toward justice as a result of Neal Schon’s and Journey’s selfish and outrageous behavior and for their inexcusable acts, which caused me extreme emotional distress.”
Salahi’s lawyer, Chuck Roberts, said he is confident his client will get his wish of a jury trial. He says there is enough evidence of “outrageous and lewd acts committed by the defendants” to move the case forward.
For better or worse, the Salahis have been a media sensation since they showed up at a 2009 White House state dinner without an invitation and became known as the “White House gatecrashers.” They were also cast in the failed Bravo reality broadcast Real Housewives of DC. Their rap was that they were a team, a devoted and madly in love couple who shared a love for wine and horses. But then last September Michaele bolted from the marriage to take up with Schon, whom she said was her real true love. Tareq first reported her as “missing,” then soon after filed for divorce. Schon said he plans to marry Michaele eventually.