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1. Negligent Mayfield Trustee?
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Georgia
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Family of Artist(s)
Defendants Trustee of Artist(s)
Other Mayfield, Curtis
Short Description Curtis Mayfield. Was. Amazing. Unfortunately, he was also a human being, so one day he died, and stopped singing. His death left significant assets to his heirs, which he disposed of, at least in part, through a trust that underlies this opinion. Defendant was Mayfield's trustee; Plaintiffs were Mayfield's heirs. After Curtis died, Plaintiffs signed a release and indemnification agreement with Defendant, releasing him of all claims they may have had against him, including gross negligence and fiduciary duties. When they sued him for these very acts, Defendant counter-claimed for breach of contract, alleging their suit violated the terms of the release. The trial court found that the release violated public policy, which does not allow trust instruments to insulate trustees from gross negligence and similar legal theories. However, the appellate court disagreed. The release of liability was not contained within the trust document, but was a separately-entered contract between the parties in this suit. Therefore, Plaintiff's action was blocked by contractual agreement and Defendant's counterclaim for breach was valid. Judgment accordingly. - LSW


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2. Singer Owes Unhappy Investor
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Georgia
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Investor(s)
Defendants Gardner, Dan
Music Manager(s)
Music Producer(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Dan Gardner is a religious musician ("gospel," according to his Rhapsody page), and is a Defendant in this lawsuit, alongside his manager and music producer. Plaintiff was approached by Defendants to invest up to $150,000 in Gardner's career, which was to be used for the recording, release, and distribution of Gardner's upcoming album. Plaintiff provided the first $50,000, but the specifics of this amount was contested by the parties. Plaintiff alleged this was an "advance," or a "conditional investment" that was to be returned if the parties could not reach a formal agreement. Defendants alleged this money was the first of his investments, and was not returnable. Furthermore, Plaintiff characterized the money as a "loan," while Defendants said it was a "gift." The Georgia trial court granted Plaintiff's summary judgment against Defendants' corporation and Defendants individually. On appeal, the Court of Appeals partially affirmed, saying no contract was formed, and thus Defendants could not claim the payment was only one of three according to the unformed contract. Furthermore, Defendants failed to show how the breakdown in negotiations implied Plaintiff's initial investment--which was clearly meant to be part of a contract yet-to-be-formed--was forfeited when the contract did not materialize. However, the appellate court found Defendants were not individually liable; only their corporation, with which Plaintiff arranged the investment, was liable for the unreturned amount. (It should be noted, Defendants could have claimed promissory estoppel, but failed to do so at trial and thus could not raise this as a defense at the appellate level.) - LSW


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3. Local Rapper's Bad Rep Made Worse
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Georgia
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Riddle, Travis
Defendants Radio Station(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description A case touching on the issues of "fame," even on smaller levels. Plaintiff is a local rap artist, Travis Riddle, whose single, "Daddy's Little Boy," had garnered radio play throughout the area, and he had achieved some local celebrity status. Defendant radio station heard rumors that Riddle had murdered his girlfriend, who then relayed the information on air. Riddle had not, and his girlfriend was alive, according to her affidavit. The court held Plaintiff was not a "public figure" regarding the supposed disappearance of his girlfriend, and the appellate court found a $100,000 jury award not to be excessive, given the damage to Plaintiff's reputation. - LSW


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4. Jordan Knight's Bodyguard T.C.O.B.
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Georgia
Year Ended 1993
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Defendants Band Member(s)
Other New Kids on the Block
Short Description Jordan Knight, a member of New Kids on the Block, allegedly struck and said something inappropriate to a woman at a bar. The woman asked the Plaintiff for help in resolving the situation. There was a serious difference regarding who struck first, the plaintiff or Knight's bodyguard. The appellate court reversed the judgment for Defendant, ordering a new trial, for several reasons. First, the jury instructions given by the judge concerning assumption of the risk did not apply in an intentional tort trial. The instruction might lead a jury to think there were defenses to the assault. Second, the Defendant improperly referred to the fact that the Plaintiff never filed his income taxes. Last, the court should have allowed the Plaintiff to present testimony from a person who would have testified to seeing Knight order his bodyguard to attack a person. This testimony was admissible to impeach Knight's assertion that he never ordered his bodyguard to hit anyone, let alone the Plaintiff. - JMC


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5. No Mo' Peabo? Oh No!
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Georgia
Year Ended 1989
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Other Bryson, Peabo
Short Description Plaintiff entered contract with Defendant, a city alderman, for a Peabo Bryson concert, but Defendants canceled the show and Plaintiffs sued, recovering a little over $2,000 at trial. When Plaintiff appealed the judgment, he failed to produce the requested court transcript within a reasonable time, and his appeal was dismissed. The judgment was affirmed. - LSW


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6. Wife and Mistress Fight for Wilson's Estate
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Georgia
Year Ended 1987
Plaintiffs Family of Artist(s)
Defendants Administrator of Estate(s)
Other Wilson, Jackie
Short Description Jackie Wilson, known at times as "Mr. Excitement," was a well-known R&B/soul singer in the 1950s and 1960s who famously suffered from a stroke while performing in New Jersey. Following this incident, he was comatose for nine years or so until he died. Wilson was previously married to Plaintiff in this case, but entered a legal separation agreement with her in 1968 in which she was to entitely receive alimony for life but would be excluded from sharing in his will. Though the couple never legally divorced, Wilson purported to marry a second woman, with whom he fathered two children. After Wilson's death, Plaintiff petitioned for and was granted letters fo administration in a New Jersey court, the state of Wilson's stroke, though Wilson had resided in Georgia after his second "marriage" and until his stroke. When Wilson's second "wife" petitioned for letters of administration in Georgia, Plaintiff sued. The court, however, found against Plaintiff, holding that Georgia was Wilson's domicile, as he'd been unable after the stroke to change domicile; that Wilson entered a common law marriage with his second wife; and that Plaintiff had waived her right to involve herself in administration through the earlier separation settlement. Letters of administration were granted to Wilson's second wife. - LSW


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7. Street Singer v. Allman Bros.
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Georgia
Year Ended 1975
Plaintiffs Street Singer(s)
Defendants Capricorn Records
Other Allman Brothers
Short Description A blind street singer was featured on the cover of an Allman Brothers album and sued under theories of "false light" and "invasion of privacy," seeking punitive damages. The court held that the picture of the singer did not place him in a false light and therefore did not constitute an invasion of privacy. - LSW & SKR.


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8. Problems with Otis's Insurance?
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Georgia
Year Ended 1970
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Defendants Individual(s)
Other Redding, Otis
Short Description Plaintiff record company alleged that it was told by Defendants, insurance agents, that Otis Redding's life insurance policy covered accidental death in the amount of $100,000. After Otis Redding died in a plane crash in 1967, Plaintiff sued Defendant for willful misrepresentation after learning that the policy only paid out $50,000 in accidental death benefits. The appellate court in this case affirmed the lower court's denial of the agents' motion for summary judgment, as genuine fact issues remained as the whether the agents were agents of the record company, and whether the alleged misrepresentation were of law rather than a fact. - SKR


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