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1. Songwriter's Royalties in a Bind
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Financial Institution(s)
Defendants Financial Institution(s)
Pullman, David
Other Page, Gene
Short Description This lawsuit is one of several over the last few years involving the financial transaction of David Pullman, a somewhat well-known figure in the music industry for his role in creating so-called "Bowie Bonds," named after David Bowie, the artist who first used them. Bowie Bonds are investment vehicles wherein purchasers buy debt from recording artists, to be repaid, with interest, through royalty payments owed to the artist. This lawsuit appears to involve this same sort of transaction regarding the royalty interests of songwriter Gene Page. Page's family took loans from Plaintiff, a financial company that loans money to artists to be repaid from royalties, but was also involved, to some extent, with Pullman and his entities. Pullman's parties offered to investigate some suspect financial transactions between Plaintiff and Page's family, including a loan to a family member of Plaintiff's owners, and Plaintiff assigned to Pullman the rights to do so. After Pullman brought suit against Plaintiffs for numerous causes of action, including conversion, fraud, interference, civil conspiracy, and numerous equitable actions not specifically listed in this entry, Plaintiff sought to enforce an arbitration agreement contained in one, and only one, of the many loan agreements between Plaintiff and the Pages. The American Arbitration Association (AAA) found the arbitration agreement enforceable, and the parties submitted to arbitration, which ended in Pullman/Page's favor for over $1/2 million. This lawsuit was brought by Plaintiff to vacate the arbitration award, alleging no court of law ever found the agreement binding. Though the AAA had upheld the provision, the court agreed and concluded that no court of law had upheld it, and thus the arbitration was not binding. If a party objects to arbitration, the resulting award cannot be binding absent a judicial determination. The award was vacated, and a court must now determine whether arbitration is mandatory. - LSW


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2. Jerry Garcia's Legacy Lawsuit
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Family of Artist(s)
Defendants Business Entity of Artist(s)
Family of Artist(s)
Other Garcia, Jerry
Grateful Dead
Short Description As would be expected, Jerry Garcia's death caused significant turmoil that continued long afterward. Iconic personalities like Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, et. al., tend to leave litigation legacies in their wake. When Garcia died, his children and other heirs fought harshly for rights to his assets and, with court urging, formed an LLC to handle and distribute the moneys. This case arose from the windup up of the LLC. The LLC's manager filed claims in arbitration, according to the contract, though Plaintiff, Garcia's widow, did not answer or file any claims during dissolution. Instead Plaintiff brought suit in court. Plaintiff eventually participated in the arbitration, again without filing claims, and the arbitrator found for Plaintiff on two of the issues in the arbitration. Plaintiff brought suit to be granted attorneys' fees, as dictated by the contract. The judge confirmed the arbitration award but refused to hold Plaintiff to be the "prevailing party," required by the contract, and thus no attorneys' fees were granted. On Plaintiff's appeal, the lower court's holding was affirmed. The trial judge did not exceed his powers in refusing to recognize Plaintiff as the "prevailing party," and did not rely on illegitimate reasons. The arbitration confirmation was affirmed. - LSW


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3. Songwriter's Transfers Fraudulent?
Highest Court N.D. Oklahoma
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Ham, Bill
Music Publisher(s)
Defendants Estate of Artist(s)
Spouse of Artist(s)
Other Williams, Jerry Lynn
Short Description Jerry Lynn Williams was a very successful songwriter, responsible for country hits by Delbert McClinton and Bonnie Rait, as well as songs by Eric Clapton and B.B. King. This lawsuit involved his ex-wife, and stemmed from a prior arbitration between Williams and Plaintiffs, decided in Plaintiffs favor, over the rights to foreign and domestic publishing royalties. The judgment in Plaintiffs favor was apparently to be satisfied with royalties and various other assets controlled by Williams and his wife. After the Williamses divorced, Plainitff brought this suit, alleging their division of property violated the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act, as it was executed so as to prevent Plaintiffs from accessing their property. In the interim, Jerry Lynn died. Plaintiffs argued, in addition to the fraudulent transfers, that the Williams wife had absconded with a gold watch and lied about the location of property and bank accounts. In several court decisions, it was held Mrs. Williams should be sanctioned for failure to comply with certain discovery requests, but that Plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction should be denied. While Mrs. Williams (and perhaps her now-dead husband) had perhaps acted inappropriately, Plaintiff failed to show a likelihood of insolvency, so as to justify enjoining the Mrs. from transfering or encumbering any of the property Plaintiff sought through this lawsuit. - LSW


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4. Travelocity Theme Copies Another
Highest Court N.D. Texas
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Advertising Producer(s)
Defendants Brock, Jeffrey
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Defendant, Jeffrey Brock, composed music for Travelocity, but his composition infringed another copyrighted song, and Plaintiffs had to defend themselves in that suit. After an arbitration award in favor of Plaintiffs, Defendant incorporated and sought to deny personal jurisdiction on account of his company's actions not being equivalent to his own. The court found the corporation to be an "alter ego," and thus the court held there was personal jurisdiction. - LSW


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5. Daz Sues for Malpractice
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Daz Dillinger
Defendants Lawyer(s)
Other Death Row Records
Knight, Suge
Shakur, Tupac
Tha Dogg Pound
Short Description DelMar Arnaud, who went by the names Daz Dillinger and Dat Nigga Daz, sued his attorney for malpractice, fraud, conversion, and breach of fiduciary duty. In 2001, Arnaud, a former member of Suge Knight's recording empire, won a default judgment in California for about $25 million against Knight and others. The defendant supposedly hired counsel in New York to collect the judgment. That New York counsel did not actually represent Arnaud's interests, and Arnaud wound up signing a release of the default judgment. The defendant went broke and when Daz sued defendant tried to arbitrate the dispute. The court refused and also found that Defendant's recent bankruptcy did not discharge Arnaud's claims. - JMC (ed. LSW)


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6. No Parking At N SYNC Gig = Lawsuit
Highest Court Appellate Court of Illinois
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Music Promoter(s)
Music Proprietor(s)
N SYNC
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff was a concert attendee for an N SYNC concert at the Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois. Assuming the trip would take 25-30 minutes, Plaintiffs left at 6:30 for the 7:30 concert, but were not parked until 9:30, after encountering traffic and parking issues well beyond what they'd anticipated. Plaintiff sued, attempting to bring a class action lawsuit on behalf of the ticket purchasers who'd missed portions of the show (some of whom wrote letters), alleging contract breaches and common law consumer torts. After Plaintiffs failed to agree to Defendants' proposed settlement, the court refused to certify the class, holding there were no predominate issues of fact between those who arrived five minutes late and those who missed the entire show. The band members were not susceptible to personal jurisdiction, and, furthermore, Plaintiff's claims were substantively inadequate; there were no contractual guarantees or misrepresentations to form the basis for Plaintiff's complaints. Icing on the cake: Plaintiff already won a small-claims arbitration award against them for the price of the tickets. Perhaps assuming 25-30 minutes to drive to and park at a 40,000 person event was a bit unreasonable. - LSW


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7. Flamingos Song in Pepsi Ad
Highest Court N.D. Illinois
Year Ended 2006
Plaintiffs Family of Artist(s)
Flamingos
Defendants Advertising Producer(s)
Pepsico
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Pepsi used the Flamingos' 1950s hit, "I Only Have Eyes for You," during a superbowl commercial. Though Defendants arguably had a license for the copyright, Plaintiffs (former members and family) sued, alleging Defendants violated terms of a collective bargaining agreement relevant to "commercial contracts," as determined by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), which was binding on Defendants, by not first negotiating for rights with the "principal performers." (In other words, Defendants needed to ask the Flamingos before asking the copyright's owner). Both parties submitted to an arbitrator, which found for Plaintiffs and held that, by pursuing litigation, Plaintiffs were not limited solely to liquidated damages under he agreement. The arbitrator awarded Plaintiff's $250,000. Defendants moved to have arbitration rejected, saying it was contrary to the express language of the collective bargaining contract, which contained a liquidated damages provision. The Illinois District Court held the arbitrator's decision was not contrary to such language, since the contract did not expressly limit damages in any way, and that its holding did not fail to "draw its essence from the contract." Arbitration award upheld. - LSW


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8. Lil' Jon's Copyright Trouble (I)
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2005
Plaintiffs Lil' Jon (and the East Side Boys)
Defendants Music Promoter(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Lil' Jon entered a contract to perform in Japan, but breached. When arbitration came out in Plaintiff's favor, Lil' appealed. Sorry, affirmed. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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9. Arbitration Over Manilow Cancelation
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs Manilow, Barry
Defendants Theatrical Producer(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Defendant had initially contracted with Manilow and others to produce a play, "Harmony," but allegedly did not do so within the time frame required under the contract. An independent, three-member arbitration panel found for Manilow, that the contract was no longer binding, given the passage of time, and Plaintiff sued to enforce the arbitration award. The court upheld it; the panel did nothing wrong. - LSW


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10. Relix Mag Infringe Johnny Winter?
Highest Court Fifth Circuit
Year Ended 1999
Plaintiffs Music Publisher(s)
Record Label(s)
Defendants Individual(s)
Music Distributor(s)
Relix Magazine
Relix Records
Other Winter, Johnny
Short Description The two record labels in this suit had previous agreements whereby the Defendant could reproduce and distribute, according to a license from Plaintiff, certain recordings by albino blues musician Johnny Winter. After Defendant purportedly exceeded the scope of the license, Plaintiff sought arbitration, and the arbitrator did not find Plaintiff's favor, prompting Plaintiff to bring this follow-up suit. After the District Court dismissed Plaintiffs suit as contrary to the arbitration proceeding, the appellate court affirmed, upholding not only the arbitration award, but the sanctions imposed by the arbitrator of Plaintiff. - LSW


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11. Plaintff: "I Wanna Produce Jazz Awards!"
Highest Court Eighth Circuit
Year Ended 1993
Plaintiffs Ceremony Organizer(s)
Defendants Charitable Organization(s)
Other Parker, Charlie
Short Description This case relates only to Parker's memorial foundation, which had allowed Plaintiff to organize and promote an awards show at the Jazz Hall of Fame. After Plaintiff was contractually granted rights to produce continuing shows of the same nature, Defendant cancelled the contract and Plaintiff sued. The matter was submitted to arbitrator who rendered an "unintelligible" ruling granting Plaintiff specific performance on the contract. The court required the arbitrator to clarify its award, which it did, to some extent. Despite the obvious difficulties with enforcing the award, Defendants failed to timely object to either the initial confirmation or the clarification of the arbitration award, and thus waived its right to vacate the arbitration. The court upheld the initial arbitration award, but acknowledged it may be impossible to enforce and damages may be necessary instead. - LSW


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12. Losing Sleep in the Copyright Jungle
Highest Court Second Circuit
Year Ended 1993
Plaintiffs Folkways Music
Defendants Abilene Music
Creatore, Luigi
Songwriter(s)
Weiss, George David
Other Seeger, Pete
Tokens
Weavers
Short Description Plaintiff is the owner of copyright in "Wimoweh," composed and registered by the Weavers based on a South African melody. When Defendant, publisher for the Tokens, released "Lion Sleeps Tonight," based on Plaintiff's registered composition, the two parties entered arbitration. They settled, agreeing Defendant would pay Plaintiff royalties on sales. In a suit to enforce the arbitration award, the appellate court denied both parties contentions and upheld the arbitrated settlement agreement, which found for Defendants. Affirmed by the Circuit Court, but litigation continued in other suits, e.g., "Tokens Want Legit 'Lion'," when the Tokens themselves entered the fray. - LSW


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13. Royalties for Jimi's Label?
Highest Court New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
Year Ended 1990
Plaintiffs PPX Enterprises
Defendants Warner Bros. Records
Other Hendrix, Jimi
Short Description After a long history of arbitration proceedings regarding royalties due on Jimi Hendrix's early recordings, PPX Enterprises sued Warner Bros. Records to re-open arbitration and set aside previous settlement agreements. Denied; PPX had plenty of opportunity to do that before. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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14. Connie's Management Issues (II)
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 1987
Plaintiffs Music Manager(s)
Defendants Francis, Connie
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description During the 1980s, it seems Connie Francis became a somewhat visible manic-depressive, largely resulting from her previous sexual assault (see "Star Assaulted at Hotel Sues") and perhaps the subsequent publicity and coverage. In this case, Plaintiff is a manager for Francis who allegedly managed her business and personal affairs during this period until it became impossible and he sued for breach. During an arbitration negotiation, a panel found for Plaintiff, despite Francis being legally an "incompetent." The District Court overturned the arbitration award; better procedures and representation should be in place for someone in Francis's condition. - LSW


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15. Manhattans' Manager vs. Lawyers
Highest Court Second Circuit
Year Ended 1986
Plaintiffs Music Manager(s)
Defendants Lawyer(s)
Other Manhattans
Short Description Plaintiff in this case was the original manager for the 1970s group, The Manhattans, but left after some issues arose between her and the band. When she sued the band, the dispute was arbitrated according to their agreement, and Defendant in this case represented her during arbitration. Plaintiff sued Defendant for malpractice, alleging multiple causes for her decreased award. The appellate court dismissed the malpractice action based upon Defendant's failure to keep out Plaintiff's theft of $25,000 from the band during arbitration, but other actions were not disposed of so quickly. - LSW


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16. Promoter vs. Willie Nelson
Highest Court Fourth Circuit
Year Ended 1986
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants Individual(s)
Music Promoter(s)
Nelson, Willie
Paycheck, Johnny
Talent Agent(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description In an interesting and multi-faceted (but brief) lawsuit, Plaintiff music promoter sued Willie Nelson for failing to perform as contracted. Their dispute was submitted to an arbitration panel according to the contract the parties had signed, under the auspices of Nelsons' musicians' union, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). After the arbitrator held in Nelson's favor, Plaintiff moved to vacate the award, which the trial court did, finding the arbitration provision lacked any semblance of mutuality or neutrality, the latter being a central purpose for arbitration proceedings. The appellate court reversed, finding Plaintiff's motion for vacatur was not timely filed and Plaintiff had no valid explanation for the delay. Even if, substantively, the lower court's ruling was correct, it cannot stand, on procedural grounds. - LSW


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17. Wynette Concert Causes Contract Clash
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
Year Ended 1985
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants Music Proprietor(s)
Other Wynette, Tammy
Short Description Though this suit does not directly involve performing artists Tammy Wynette and Mel Tillis, it illustrates the consequences of their actions on third parties. Plaintiff and Defendant entered a partnership agreement whereby the former would book and produce concerts on premises owned by the latter. Among the first shows booked were Wynette and Tillis. However, Wynette cancelled and, though Plaintiff secured a replacement, the show was a financial failure. Defendant then rescinded the partnership agreement and proposed a different arrangement, though Plaintiff continued operating under the original. Defendant then sued, alleging Plaintiff's cancellation of the Tillis show was prior to Defendant's repudiation and constituted breach. After submitting to arbitration, Defendant was found liable for breaching the original agreement, and for hoarding the partnership assets after dissolution. Plaintiff brought this suit to enforce the award, and Defendant sought it vacated, citing conflicting testimonies as to the date of the Tillis cancellation. The court, noting that arbitration awards are presumptively valid, refused to vacate the award on account of conflicting testimonies to which Defendant had access during arbitration. Award affirmed. - LSW


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18. Gil Chimes Fights Cancelation
Highest Court Court of Errors and Appeals of New Jersey
Year Ended 1984
Plaintiffs Chimes, Gil (Quartet)
Family of Artist(s)
Defendants Music Proprietor(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Gil Chimes has been an active member of the New York music scene for apparently quite some time, performing on Broadway, as a jazz artist, and hosting numerous radio and local TV shows. After Defendant terminated the contract with Chimes' band, Chimes sued and received an arbitration award despite Defendant's failure to answer. The N.Y. appellate division found the arbitration clause unenforceable in that it bound a non-member of the musicians' union requesting arbitration, and set aside the award for Plaintiff. - LSW


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19. Publishers Want Manilow Rights
Highest Court Second Circuit
Year Ended 1982
Plaintiffs Manilow, Barry
Music Publisher(s)
Defendants Music Publisher(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Barry Manilow and assorted associated businesses brought copyright infringement against Defendant for unlicensed use of Plaintiff's compositions, according to the terms of the contract between them. Manilow sued for copyright infringement, but the court initially compelled arbitration, because this was provided for in the contract. After much litigation, the Second Circuit eventually upheld the arbitration award, saying copyright disputes were within the terms of the arbitration clause and the District Court had jurisdiction because the issue was one of copyright. - LSW


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