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1. Paul Wall Gig Raided
Highest Court Fifth Circuit
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Music Proprietor(s)
Defendants Police Officer(s)
Other Wall, Paul
Short Description As this court opinion makes clear, racism among governmental entities is not a thing of the past, though perhas we'd like to think it is. In the world of music, where racial lines sometimes delineate musical genres' intended populations, these prejudices may unfairly impact people who create, support, and promote specific genres. Hip-hop music, of course, is often the preferred target. In this case, Plaintiffs were two individuals who owned and operated Club Retro, a hip-hop club in Alexandria, Louisiana, operating legally under license from all appropriate agencies. Specifically, the Retro was allowed to admit patrons between the ages of 18 and 21, so long as they did not drink alcohol. The club took appropriate precautions to prevent the admission of illicit drugs, firearms, etc., and complied with governmental restrictions. Regardless, Club Retro was the subject of an excessive, violent S.W.A.T.-style raid, in which a group of police officers burst into the club with shotguns, handguns, and protective gear, physically, verbally, and arguably sexually assaulted numerous Plaintiffs, detained attendees for hours on end, denied patrons access to bathrooms, searched the entire establishment and everyone there, and committed other egregious acts in the process. Despite the intensity of the raid, the club, at the time the officers arrived, was operating legally: it was NOT overcrowded (only 500 people were there, though the capacity neared 700); underage patrons, who were fined by the officers, were present under governmental sanction; and only 7 people (less than 1%) were found with any illicit drugs, which is likely less than at a Phish gig. To make matters worse, the police blockaded a second concert, featuring Paul Wall, the following month, which prevented all but 67 people from attending. Plaintiffs sued, alleging First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment violations, and the governmental entities claimed "qualified immunity." Thankfully, the federal courts sided with Plaintiffs regarding Fourth Amendment accusations: the officers' actions were not supported by and plainly exceeded any administrative or inspective authority claimed by Defendants, and, in citing underage drinking and fire code violations as jusitications, the raid, arrests, and searches and seizures were objectively unreasonable and unsupported by even an inkling of probable cause. However, the court refused to find Defendants liable under First and Fourteenth Amendments, despite the officers' use of racial epithets during the raid. Though it's sad Defendants were allowed excuses for some of their actions, it's good to know their unacceptable behavior was sanctioned to a large extent. - LSW

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2. Record Labels Fight Over Pitbull
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Music Producer(s)
Slip-N-Slide Records
Defendants TVT Records
Other Luke Records
Short Description Slip-N-Slide sued TVT for contract violation, among other assorted causes of action. Judgment for Plaintiff, but amount remitted on appeal. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]

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3. "The Man" vs. 2 Live Crew (IV)
Highest Court Fifth Circuit
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs 2 Live Crew
Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants County Entity and/or Official(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Rap group members, individual concert-goers, and concert promoters sued a sheriff's department for violation of First, Fourth, and Fourteenth amendment rights when the sheriffs set up road blocks and checkpoints outside of a concert planned in Mississippi. The court granted qualified immunity to the sheriffs on some, but not all of the constitutional claims. While several opening acts are reported to have performed, 2 Live Crew did not perform at the Mississippi concert. - SKR

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4. Constitutional Violations at Concert?
Highest Court S.D. Ohio
Year Ended 2003
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Music Promoter(s)
Police Officer(s)
Other Cash Money Millionaires
Short Description When Cash Money Millionaires canceled their concert, Plaintiffs decided to leave before the crowd got rowdy. A fight broke out in front of the venue, and someone seems to have shouted that Plaintiffs had guns in their cars. Police officers stopped Plaintiffs and searched them and their car. Plaintiff's suit against concert promoters and police officers for violation of civil rights was dismissed. - LSW

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5. Chi-Lites vs. Purported Theifs
Highest Court D. Nevada
Year Ended 2003
Plaintiffs Music Publisher(s)
Defendants Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
Polygram Records
Universal Music Group
Other Chi-Lites
Short Description Plaintiff is apparently the publisher with rights to songs by the Chi-Lites, specifically the song "Message to the World," here suing the Chi-Lites' record label and others, alleging not just copyright infringement and breach of contract, but "theft by deception" as well. Unfortunately, "theft by deception" is not an existing tort, and is thus dismissed. The other causes of action will proceed to trial. - LSW

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6. Trouble at B.B.'s Restaurant
Highest Court W.D. Tennessee
Year Ended 1999
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Defendants B.B. King's Blues Club
Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Police Officer(s)
Other King, B.B.
Short Description At B.B. King's restaurant in Memphis, TN, a customer was asked to leave and refused. During altercation with guards, customer was accidentally asphyxiated, and family sued. Defendants' motions for summary judgment dismissed. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]

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7. They Fought the Law, and They Won!
Highest Court Supreme Court of Washington
Year Ended 1994
Plaintiffs A&M Records
Alice in Chains
Atlantic Records
Bertelsman Music Group (BMG)
Capitol-EMI Music
Criminal Nation
Elektra Records
EMI Records
Estrus Records
Geffen Records
GRP Records
Island Records
MCA Records
Music Distributor(s)
Pearl Jam
Polygram Records
Priority Records
Record Label(s)
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
Schuur, Diane
Seven Year Bitch
Sir Mix-A-Lot
Sire Records
Sony Music
Sub Pop Records
Tower Records
Warner Bros. Records
Defendants County Entity and/or Official(s)
State Entity and/or Official(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Soundgarden, as well as numerous other musicians and record labels, sought to declare a state obscenity statute regarding "erotic sound recordings" constitutionally void on its face, since it interfered with the artists' ability to freely express themselves, access their ideas, and manage their business . Ruling in favor of Soundgarden, the Supreme Court of Washington held that the statute was a prior restraint on the artists' protected speech, that the statute was overbroad since it reached constitutionally protected conduct, and that the statute violated due process. Judgment for Soundgarden. - SKR

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8. Hank Sr.'s Litigitous, Illegitimate Child (IV)
Highest Court M.D. Alabama
Year Ended 1992
Plaintiffs Williams, Hank (Jr.)
Defendants Child of Artist(s)
Judicial Officer(s)
Other Williams, Hank (Sr.)
Short Description Case description not yet available

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9. "The Man" vs. 2 Live Crew (I)
Highest Court Eleventh Circuit
Year Ended 1990
Plaintiffs 2 Live Crew
Luke Records
Defendants County Entity and/or Official(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description A Broward County sheriff found probable cause that 2 Live Crew's third album, Nasty as They Wanna Be, was obscene, and arrested a black retailer for selling the album. The rap group sued the county for restraint and First Amendment protection, but were subsequently arrested for performing the song in a Florida nightclub. The court reversed the lower court's obscenity ruling, finding that the sheriff failed to apply the Supreme Court's obscenity standard in Miller v. California. The court was unwilling to concede that the last prong of the Miller test, which requires determination of whether a work "lacks serious artistic, scientific, literary or political value," was met in this case. - SKR & LSW

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10. "The Man" vs. 2 Live Crew (II)
Highest Court D. Rhode Island
Year Ended 1990
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Other 2 Live Crew
Short Description A Town Council learned of 2 Live Crew's reputation and attempted to prevent a planned concert in Rhode Island by revoking the promoter's entertainment licenses under town ordinances. The court granted the promoters a preliminary injunction, preventing the town council from holding a hearing to consider revocation of the promoters' entertainment license. - SKR

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11. Carmine Appice vs. Ozzy
Highest Court Ninth Circuit
Year Ended 1988
Plaintiffs Former Band Member(s)
Music Manager(s)
Defendants Business Entity of Artist(s)
Osbourne, Ozzy
Spouse of Artist(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description A district court had not granted a continuance, despite Ozzy Osbourne's inability to attend, and misrepresentations by one of the law firms. Apparently, a continuance was granted by the Court of Appeals. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]

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12. Winterland and Artists Sue Together
Highest Court Seventh Circuit
Year Ended 1984
Plaintiffs Aerosmith
Amboy Dukes
Benetar, Pat
Black Sabbath
Blue ?yster Cult
Doobie Brothers
Electric Light Orchestra
Fleetwood Mac
Grateful Dead
Hagar, Sammy
Jefferson Starship
Nugent, Ted
Petty, Tom (and the Heartbreakers)
REO Speedwagon
Rolling Stones
Santana, Carlos
Segar, Bob
Springsteen, Bruce (and the E Street Band)
Winterland Concessions
Defendants Bootlegger(s)/Counterfeiter(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Last seen in "U.F.O. Merch Counterfeit!," Edwin Trela was a t-shirt manufacturer who here was sued by a concessions company. Trela was previously enjoined from printing t-shirts that featured the bands that the concession company had licensed. Trela, first, claimed that the company violated antitrust law and his civil rights, and second, tried to modify the injunction. The Court did not modify the injunction because nothing changed in the situation and Trela had been able to represent himself in the hearing. The Court procedurally approved of Trela's appeal of the dismissal of the counterclaims, but then dismissed him on the substance. The police did not violate his civil rights because they were acting properly within the law. The Court, however, did find that Trela properly pleaded the antitrust claim. Trela claimed that the concession company repeatedly obtained generic restraining orders instead of specifying his company, despite knowing his company's name. By doing this shortly before the concerts, the concession company was improperly using the courts to eliminate competition. In allowing the claim to continue, the Court did not come close to reaching the merits of Trela's claim. - JMC

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13. Sideman's Workers' Comp Claim
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Michigan
Year Ended 1981
Plaintiffs Back-Up Musician(s)
Defendants Educational Institution(s)
Other Herman, Woody
Short Description Plaintiff was a member of Woody Herman's orchestra who sustained injuries while performing at Defendant's campus in Allendale, Michigan, while there for a musicians' workshop. Plaintiff initially filed for workers' compenstation, listing Herman as his "statutory employer," but Herman was uninsured in the state and unable to pay. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a suit against Defendant in federal court, which was dismissed, followed by a state suit against the same party. When the state's employment board found Defendant liable to Plaintiff for workers' compensation--not as his literal employer, but only as his "statutory employer" via their principal-agent relationship--Defendant sought to dismiss the lawsuit, alleging the workers' comp claim was Plaintiff's "exclusive remedy." Plaintiff pointed out that employees (in the literal, not merely statutory sense) had two causes of action against their employers, both in workers comp and tort, and that differential treatment for parties like Plaintiff was either 1) unintended by the statute or 2) in violation of constitutional principles. The court disagreed, and granted Defendant's motion for an accelerated judgment in their favor if the employment board's decision is upheld on appeal. - LSW

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14. Seeger: Controversial & Constitutional
Highest Court New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
Year Ended 1966
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants County Entity and/or Official(s)
Other Seeger, Pete
Short Description Plaintiffs organized a Pete Seeger concert to be held at Defendant's high school auditorium, and when Defendant canceled, Plaintiffs sued for violating their constitutional rights. The trial court found for Defendants and the court App. denied appeal on account the date of the concert had passed, but the court of last resort found the conflict justiciable. Defendant's actions eventually found unconstitutional. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]

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