A US country singer has dropped a $250,000 (£200,000) lawsuit against a disabled woman who sold merchandise with her face on it and will now raise money for her.
Lawyers for Luke Combs, who recently topped the US country list, went after companies selling unauthorized goods – but Florida woman Nicol Harness was caught up in the crackdown.
She had sold 18 tumblers she had made with his name and face for $20 (£16) each, bringing in a total of $360 (£280).
The singer said he had asked his lawyers to remove her from the lawsuit and said he was sending her $11,000 (£8650).
He also said in an Instagram video that he would start selling his own tumblers, with the proceeds going to pay Mrs Harness’s medical bills – she has a heart condition and recently needed hospital treatment.
He also said he would fly Ms. Harness and her family to an upcoming concert so he could meet her.
Combs said his lawyers should only go after big businesses, not fans who have a small business on the side. Most of the 45 other sellers being sued appear to be large operations in Asia, court documents show.
Under US copyright law, sellers of unauthorized goods can be hit with stiff fines and have their assets seized. They may also face criminal charges.
“This is not something I would ever do. That’s not the kind of person I am. I’m not greedy in any way, shape or form. Money is the last thing on my mind. I promise you.” Combs said.
Ms. Harness’s plight came to light Tuesday after a story by Tampa TV station WFLA went viral.
She told the station the lawsuit was sent by email and went to her junk mail folder so she never saw it.
When Ms. Harness did not respond as required within 30 days, the judge found her in default and ordered her to pay $250,000.
She discovered she had been sued when Amazon, following the judge’s order, froze the $5,500 she had in her account for possible seizure, meaning she couldn’t pay her bills.
A big fan of the singer, Ms Harness started selling Combs tumblers after attending one of his concerts.
“It’s very stressful,” Ms Harness told the station. “I meant no harm to Luke Combs. I stopped selling the tumbler. I took it down. I just don’t understand… It’s not something I meant to go wrong like this. I just want to go back to my daily life.”
Combs said in his Instagram video that he first heard about what had happened when he got up at 5 a.m. Wednesday to go to the bathroom and saw the story.
He got Ms Harness’s number through his manager and called her.
“I was so apologetic when I talked to her. It just makes me sad, honestly, that this would happen, especially during the holidays. I can’t imagine being in her shoes,” Combs said.
Ms Harness said he was “a very nice guy, very understanding” when they spoke.
She told WFLA Wednesday, “I still can’t believe he called me and he’s doing these things to me.”