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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. Rush Guitarist Fights at the Ritz
Highest Court Eleventh Circuit
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Family of Artist(s)
Music Manager(s)
Music Promoter(s)
Music Publisher(s)
Record Label(s)
Defendants Place of Public Accomodation
Security Guard(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description At a New Year's Eve party at a Ritz Carlton in Florida, Rush guitarist Aleksandar Zivojinovich (better known as Alex Lifeson) and his son, Justin, acted distruptively and were ejected by police officers at the hotel's request. Alex and Justin were admittedly acting inappropriately at the event, but hotel staff exaggerated the story to police officers in an attempt to have them removed. After being asked to leave, the situation escalated, ending in both Alex and Justin getting "tazed," and Alex receiving a broken nose. Both pleaded no contest to restisting arrest without violence, but then a flurry of lawsuits followed, brought by the officers against the Zivojinoviches and by the Zivojinoviches against the officers and the Ritz. Even Rush joined the suit, alleging Alex's injuries were detrimental to the band's business. The court disposed of all counts except one: Alex and Justin's negligence claims against the Ritz. Because hotel staff had lied to police officers to instigate the duo's removal, the court held that the hotel had breached a duty "not to lie," and that the staff's breach increased the risk of injury to the Zivojinoviches. Because hotel staff may have breached their duty, the hotel could be vicariously liable as well. Alex and Justin's actions against the officers for unconstitutionally excessive force were dismissed; the officers had acted appropriately, at least, perhaps, given the inaccurate reports they'd received from the hotel personnel. Rush's cause of action didn't even exist, and the band had no standing. According to the court's summary, all parties acted a bit out of line, so the outcome doesn't seem too unfair. - LSW

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3. Officers Hurt Stones Fan at Gig
Highest Court S.D. Ohio
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Business Entity of Artist(s)
Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Police Officer(s)
Other Rolling Stones
Short Description Concert-goer bought merchandise at concert, but was stopped by plainclothes officers intent on stopping bootleggers. After officers failed to identify themselves, Plaintiffs physically defended themselves and their goods. In trial, jury found for Plaintiffs, who then brought action against Rolling Stones as employers of the officers. Dismissed. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]

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4. "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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5. 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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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. Searches at Young Gig Constitutional?
Highest Court Tenth Circuit
Year Ended 1995
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Academic Institution(s)
Music Promoter(s)
Music Proprietor(s)
Security Service(s)
Other Young, Neil
Short Description The defendant promoted a Neil Young concert held at a stadium on the University of Utah's campus. The promoter contracted with a security company who had a policy of patting-down all "'rock', [sic] 'rap' or [] 'go-go' concert [goers]." The University had hired the same security company, but had never contracted for pat-downs. The class of plaintiffs claimed federal and state constitutional violations for the pat-downs, noting some of the security personnel wore University jackets. The court granted summary judgment finding there was no "nexus" between the government and the challenged conduct and that the plaintiffs failed to show other state or joint action. Mr. Young, not a party to this suit, has Canadian citizenship. - JMC

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8. Elvis Clarifies Copyright Crime (II)
Highest Court Supreme Court of the United States
Year Ended 1988
Plaintiffs Federal Prosecutor(s)
Defendants Bootlegger(s)/Counterfeiter(s)
Other Presley, Elvis
Short Description Defendant was convicted and sentenced for crimes connected with a scheme to manufacture and distribute bootleg Elvis Presley phonograph records. Defendant appealed his convictions for copyright infringement, interstate transportation of stolen property, and conspiracy, which the appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court, however, reversed and remanded the case in light of its holding in Dowling v. U.S., 473 U.S. 207 (1985), where it held that a provision the National Stolen Property Act imposing criminal penalties for interstate transportation of stolen property did not reach the interstate transportation of "bootleg records". On remand, the appellate court reversed Defendant's interstate transportation conviction, but affirmed the remaining convictions. The Defendant then moved to reconsider his conviction, which was denied by the court of appeals. The court of appeals then remanded the case to the district court for re-sentencing. - SKR

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9. 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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10. Unwarranted Searches at Charlie's Concert
Highest Court M.D. Alabama
Year Ended 1978
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Other Daniels, Charlie
Short Description Attendees of a Charlie Daniels concert were searched, roughly 60% of them to be exact, and some were found in possession of contraband items. Plaintiffs sued to declare such searches unconstitutional, that they were undertaken without a warrant, without probable cause, and without either express or implied consent. The court held for Plaintiffs, finding the searches not to fit any constitutional justification for warrantless searches. - LSW

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11. Feds Search and Seize Bootleg Ops (II)
Highest Court Tenth Circuit
Year Ended 1978
Plaintiffs Federal Prosecutor(s)
Defendants Bootlegger(s)/Counterfeiter(s)
Other Campbell, Glenn
Denver, John
Dylan, Bob
Lynn, Loretta
Short Description In 1978, the Defendants were convicted in federal court in Oklahoma of selling pirated 8-track records of various county and folk singers. The Defendants attempted to say that the recordings were actually simulations of the famous artists, but, in fact, they were just copies. They appealed on a number of grounds. The warrant to search their business operation was based off confidential informants. Some of the informants mentioned in the supporting affidavit did have additional information that demonstrated their reliability, and that information combined with identified sources to demonstrate probable cause. Additionally, one source discussed having the 8-tracks tested. The Court also found that many of the facts in the affidavit were close enough in time and suggested a continued criminal operation. Probable cause is subject to lesser standards of proof than a trial would require. Interestingly, the Defendants tried to claim the copyrights were not valid, but because they did not object at trial, the error is reviewed for plain error, of which there was none. Last, the Defendants argued that there was insufficient evidence to show their conduct was willful or that they were coconspirators. They claimed to have a contract with a Texan who promised to deliver sound-alike recordings. However, there was no evidence shown that the contract or the Texan even existed. The Court also found there was enough evidence to show that the parties engaged in busies together. At the least, the jury believed it, and that was good enough. - JMC

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12. Feds Search and Seize Bootleg Ops (I)
Highest Court First Circuit
Year Ended 1977
Plaintiffs Federal Prosecutor(s)
Defendants Bootlegger(s)/Counterfeiter(s)
Other Jethro Tull
Reddy, Helen
Short Description Defendants were charged with selling unauthorized reproductions of copyrighted sound recordings after FBI agents seized 1,989 pirated eight-track tapes from Defendants retail music store in Massachusetts pursuant to a search warrant. The Defendants filed a motion to suppress the tapes, arguing that the search warrant was issued in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The court ruled that the warrant insufficiently described the items to be seized, and was therefore invalid. Judgment for Defendants. - SKR

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13. Drug Charge for Airplane Singer
Highest Court Supreme Court of Minnesota
Year Ended 1972
Plaintiffs State Prosecutor(s)
Defendants Band Member(s)
Other Jefferson Airplane
Short Description After Jefferson Airplane performed in Minnesota, the band was housed at a hotel in Bloomington. Several parents reported that their young daughters had attended a party in rooms at the hotel in which marijuana was smoked. After observing male members of Airplane's party escort several young women to taxi-cabs (the men were arrested with marijuana on their person), the police sent an officer, disguised "in the casual dress and manner characterized as that of a 'hippie,'" to the band's room, where he observed rolled cigarettes, which he assumed to be marijuana. After lead singer Martyn Jerel Buchwald was arrested, charged and convicted for possessing marijuana and hash, he fought the "search and seizure," alleging the pretextual visit and lack of probable cause rendered the evidence inadmissible. The court found the police acted appropriately and did not violate Defendants' reasonable expectation of privacy, and that the police had probable cause, since hand-rolled cigarettes rarely contained actual tobacco. BUSTED! - LSW

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14. Sinatra Jr.'s Kidnappers Caught
Highest Court Ninth Circuit
Year Ended 1967
Plaintiffs Federal Prosecutor(s)
Defendants Individual(s)
Other Sinatra, Frank, Jr.
Short Description In 1963, Frank Sinatra, Jr. was kidnapped from the family home in Lake Tahoe, California. The kidnappers were later tried after Jr. was returned unharmed following ransom payment. The kidnappers appealed various parts of their trial. First, they claimed that the federal judge assigned the case could not hear it since he was visiting from Oregon. The Court easily dismissed this and the next claim that the defendants were charged with an incorrect number of actual offenses related to the kidnapping. One defendant had demanded to be severed from trial with the codefendants, but under old law, the judge's instructions cured any problems associated with the use of codefendant's statements. The defendant also challenged the method of jury selection, but the court deferred to the trial judge because the method was approved by the U.S. Supreme Court. One defendant was lucky, receiving a new trial because the government failed to deliver information on prospective jurors since the charge faced was potentially capital. The court also addressed the manner which the defendant's confession was given (this case was decided at the same time as the Supreme Court created the Miranda warning). - JMC

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