The designer of Dimebag Darrell’s lightning guitar reopens lawsuit against Dean

The case began in 2017, but was dismissed due to the statute of limitations.

An attorney representing Buddy ‘Buddy Blaze’ Webster, the designer of Dimebag Darrell’s ‘Dean From Hell’ guitar, has asked a court to reinstate his copyright infringement lawsuit against Dean Guitars.

Webster’s initial 2017 suit accused Dean of stealing the lightning graphic for Dimebag’s Dean ML guitar, created by him in 1985. The guitar has been sold as a signature model and reissued by Dean several times, as Dimebag signed an endorsement deal with the company before his death in 2004. This lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge in Tampa, Florida – who found that since Webster knew about the reissue sales as early as December 2004, his 2017 lawsuit was barred by the three-year statute of limitations.

However, on Friday 31 January this year, Webster’s attorney Eric Bjorgum made the case to a three-judge 11th Circuit panel that the lawsuit is still timely – arguing that the statute of limitations on the claim accrues every time Dean Guitars reissues the guitar featuring the lightning storm graphic. Bjorgum also argues that Webster avoided immediate legal action because he was afraid of angering Dimebag’s fanbase following his death.

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Dean Guitar’s attorney Douglas Rettew, however, argued that Webster’s chance to sue Dean Guitars or Dimebag’s estate over the design has long passed, saying: “[Webster] can’t wait in the weeds and pounce on a copyright complaint years later. Webster knew the guitars were being made in 2005. That’s when he could’ve sued but he waited over a decade… Webster wanted royalties for the graphic but never got paid. That also could have triggered the claim’s statute of limitations.” Rettew also addressed Bjorgum’s claim that Webster put off the lawsuit due to his fear of backlash from Dimebag’s fans, saying “Pantera was a beloved band then. They are now. So why couldn’t he sue back then?”

At present, it is unclear when the case will be resolved: as Courthouse News reports, “the panel did not indicate when it would reach a decision in the case.” Stay tuned to Guitar.com for more updates.

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