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1. Latin Music Manager Steal Clients?
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Booking Agent(s)
Music Manager(s)
Defendants Alvares, Marcelo
Margison, Richard
Vargas, Ramon
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description The facts of this lawsuit are not uncommon. Defendants are well-known international singers Ramon Vargas, Richard Margison, and Marcelo Alvarez, who entered a management contract with Plaintiff, a music management company. As is common, Defendants were handled by specific individuals at Plaintiff corporation, and these individuals later left (or were fired by) Plaintiff to manage artists on their own. Defendants decided to stay with their respective managers and thus left Plaintiff's roster. When Defendants performed at concerts that had been arranged while still under contract with Plaintiff, Plaintiff sued, arguing they should have been paid commissions on these performances, even though the appearances occurred after the artists left Plaintiff. The artists argued the clause was inapplicable, because the individuals responsible for booking the gigs were no longer employed by Plaintiff. On the parties' motions for summary judgment, the court found that contract interpretation required findings of fact, as did interpreting industry customs for post-termination commissions. Defendants' argument that termination of Defendants' managers constituted termination of the contract between Plaintiff and Defendant was precluded because Defendants did not raise the issue early enough. After a trial on the merits, the court found for Plaintiffs for around $700,000. Industry custom within the world of opera agreed with Plaintiffs' position and Defendants did not offer conflicting evidence. Plaintiffs were owed commissions for performances arranged during the parties' contractual arrangement but performed afterwards. - LSW


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2. Manilow Show Falls Apart
Highest Court E.D. New York
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Investor(s)
Defendants Theatrical Producer(s)
Other Manilow, Barry
Short Description Though not directly involving Barry Manilow, this case is a classic contract breach lawsuit that illustrates many of the common issues and defenses in such cases. Defendant was a theatrical producer and was putting together a Broadway show called "Harmony," about Barry Manilow and featuring his music (presumably Defendant had Manilow's consent). Plaintiff loaned $100,000 to Defendant's LLC, which was formed to organize the performance. For some reason not explained, the show did not proceed and Plaintiff's loan was not repaid. When Plaintiff brought suit, Defendant unleashed an array of defenses to invalidate Plaintiff's claim. Defendant claimed the venue was inappropriate or inconvenient, that there was no personal jurisdiction, and that the contract was unenforceable according to the Statute of Frauds. On Defendant's motion to dismiss, the court found he had "purposefully availed" himself of the jurisdiction by transacting business there, so personal jurisdiction was appropriate; Plaintiff's chosen venue was the place of negotiation, so it was appropriate; the forum was not so inconvenient to the parties and witnesses as to necessitate overriding Plaintiff's choice of forum; there was sufficient evidence of "meeting of the minds" to render the agreement enforceable at this stage of litigation; and the contract was performable within one year, so the Statute of Frauds was inapplicable. However, Plaintiff's motions for summary judgment were also denied. The court found that the emails sent between the parties were insufficient to summarily establish that a "meeting of the minds" did indeed exist. Furthermore, it appears Plaintiff contracted with Defendant's LLC, not Defendant personally, so his action could not, on summary judgment at least, succeed against Defendant. - LSW


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3. Lawsuit Against Against Me!
Highest Court New York Supreme Court
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Esther Creative Group
Defendants Against Me!
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description The manager for Against Me! sued the band for nonpayment of the agreed-upon 15% commission from tours and sales allegedly resulting from his management agreement with the band. Despite claiming Statute of Frauds as a defense, that the unwritten contract was insufficient in that it was not to be performed within one year, the court held that emails and respondences may qualify as a writing, and, alternatively, that the doctrine of "part performance" and Plaintiff's claim for quantum meruit could form bases for relief. Defendant's motion to dismiss denied. - LSW


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4. Ex-Girlfriend vs. 50 Cent
Highest Court New York Supreme Court
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Girlfriend of Artist(s)
Defendants 50 Cent
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description A longtime girlfriend to Curtis Jackson (50 Cent), who is also mother to his child, sued 50 for numerous causes of action after he "made it big," alleging he had earlier promised, in return for supporting him while he was struggling and newly paroled, that "when he makes it big, he will take care of [her] for the rest of [her] life." When 50's celebrity and bank account grew, he pushed for Plaintiff (and provided funds) to start a career investing in properties. After the relationship strained, 50 began sleeping around and allegedly hitting Plaintiff, they split, and Plaintiff filed this suit. It could be taught in first year Contracts classes, as it deals with oral contracts and equitable relief that may arise when such promises are unenforceable. The trial court found that Plaintiff stated causes of action for breach of contract, breach of joint venture agreement, partition of property, and various equitable actions, holding that unmarried cohabitants were legally able to contract regarding financial matters. In its final disposition, however, the court dismissed the complaint in its entirety. Any contract-based claims were blocked by lack of specificity in the original promise or by the Statute of Frauds, as not performable within one year. The court found for 50 Cent on every other cause of action, denying petition of property and dismissing assault and battery (outside the statute of limitations), fraud, and others. Plaintiff's "unjust enrichment" action was also insufficient; 50 had since taken care of Plaintiff, even if she originally took care of him. - LSW


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5. Clinton Squatting on Exec's Land?
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Michigan
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Boladian, Armen
Bridgeport Music
Southfield Music
Westbound Records
Defendants Clinton, George
Music Publisher(s)
Occupants of Land Parcel(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description During the 1980s, Parliament-Funkadelic leader George Clinton leased farmland from a non-party, and Armen Boladian, founder of Westbound Records, who at the time owned much of Clinton's recording library (subject of another lawsuit leading to millions in damages for Clinton), helped Clinton with the payments, later buying and leasing the farm to Clinton against Clinton's publishing rights during Clinton's bankruptcy in 1985. By 1986, Clinton was again deeply in arrears. but simply had not paid any of the money promised. This state of affairs continued to 1996, when Boladian sued for $1.1 million in unpaid rent. Boladian denied Clinton's various defenses, and the trial and appellate courts found that Clinton owed the past rent. The portion of the lawsuit regarding the actual damages owed Boladian continued through 2005, adding additional parties and claims, when the court found that both parties had defenses in laches due to the passage of time. The Court later found that both parties failed to use due diligence in asserting their claims leading to great prejudice, that the oral agreement from the 1980s regarding the lease failed the Statute of Frauds, and that their was no oral contract regarding the amount of damages for unpaid rent. - JMC


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6. Booker Books Alicia in Nigeria
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Talent Agent(s)
Defendants Music Promoter(s)
Other Keys, Alicia
Short Description The Plaintiff is talent agency that may or may not have entered a deal with the Defendants to share booking fees for a festival held in Lagos, Nigeria. The deal also extended to other events, including an Alicia Keys' concert. Also, the Defendants alleged that they never received payment from the Plaintiff for the Keys' concert. The Defendants' motion for summary judgment was partially granted for the on-going deal because it would violate the Statute of Frauds. Contracts that will take over a year to be performed must be in writing to be upheld against a party. The Court rejected the Plaintiff's argument that the deals were no an on-going contract but rather discrete projects, which by their nature would be performed within a year. The Court also found the deal did not create a joint venture, which because it is terminable at will is not covered by the Statute of Frauds. The Court granted the Plaintiffs' motion to amend its complaint and found that there were issues of fact concerning the payments regarding the Nigerian concert. - JMC


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7. Suit Over Beyonce's Clothes
Highest Court New York Supreme Court
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Defendants Beyonc?
Clothing Manufacturer(s)
Other Destiny's Child
Short Description Plaintiff entered into a contract with Beyonce's management to facilitate licensing agreements between Knowles and a clothing manufacture. Plaintiff subsequently sued for breach of contract and quantum meruit when he did not receive as much payment as he expected for his services. The court dismissed the claims because business opportunities, according to the Statute of Frauds, must be in writing to be enforceable, and Plaintiff's only evidence of a contract was checks and check stubs. - LSW & SKR


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8. Small-Town Songwriter vs. FOX Television
Highest Court N.D. Ohio
Year Ended 2006
Plaintiffs Stainbrook, John
Defendants Fox Networks
Other Stain
Short Description The same John Stainbrook that sued the band Staind in "Staind vs. The Stain," Plaintiff is the former vocalist of the 1980s punk rock band, The Stain, and is now a republican politician, who wrote songs for various television snippets at Defendant's request. Plaintiff sued for numerous causes when Defendants did not pay or return the originals. The District Court found only the breach of contract claim was not defeated by summary judgment. - LSW


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9. Drummer Makes Baaaad Investment
Highest Court S.D. Indiana
Year Ended 2005
Plaintiffs Aronoff, Kenny
Defendants Individual(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff Aronoff is a professional drummer, voted number one for several years in a row by Modern Drummer and appearing on over thirty Grammy-nominated albums, who traveled to North Carolina to record music. At some point, he met one of the Defendants who informed him of a business opportunity to sell a milk flavoring product. Through phone calls and discussions, the Plaintiff sent about $450,000 to the Defendants' corporation, which was a front. Later, the business venture failed, and the Plaintiff filed suit after trying to get an accounting of the Defendants' books. The Court granted Aronoff summary judgment on several of the claims, finding the Defendants engaged in racketeering operations and defrauded the Plaintiff. - JMC


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10. Rap Manager vs. RZA
Highest Court E.D. New York
Year Ended 2001
Plaintiffs Music Manager(s)
Defendants RZA
Other Gravediggaz
Short Description Plaintiff promoted and managed the Gravediggaz, not RZA as a solo artist or as member of the Wu-Tang Clan, but argued Defendants' success in those ventures is owed largely to Plaintiff's activities, and thus he should be compensated accordingly. RZA fought the complaint on numerous grounds, including arguing the Shopping/Finders Agreement law in New York precludes Plaintiff's legal right to negotiate record contracts, and the Statute of Frauds barred the action. The court brushed over the first, and regarding the second, found a genuine conflict between the New York and California Statutes of Fraud. After finding that California law governed the contract--according to New York's "center of gravity" or "grouping of contacts" theory--the court decided that Cali's Statute of Frauds did not bar the action.- LSW


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11. Mongo's Management Mess
Highest Court New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
Year Ended 2001
Plaintiffs Estate of Music Manager(s)
Defendants Santamaria, Mongo
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description The estate of Mongo Santamaria's former manager sued Mongo for unpaid royalties according to an alleged oral contract between the two, which was to continue after either's death. Though Mongo's manager had been so for 35 years, the lack of a writing placed the agreement within the Statute of Frauds. The contract is unenforceable and judgment was entered for Defendants. - LSW


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12. 2 Publishers vs. Lion King Song
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2000
Plaintiffs Music Publisher(s)
Defendants Buena Vista Distribution
John, Elton
Music Publisher(s)
Rice, Tim
Walt Disney
Walt Disney Records
Other Medeiros, Glenn
Short Description Two different companies, both purporting to hold valid copyright to song "Listen To Your Heart," by singer/songwriter Glenn Medeiros, separately sued Disney, Elton John, Tim Rice, and various media companies for copyright infringement, alleging Elton John's song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," from the Lion King's soundtrack, copied Medeiros's work. The court joined the suits and ruled on one company's motion to dismiss the other's for lack of standing. Because Medeiros granted exclusive rights to the movant company first, his later grant to the other, which was explicitly limited to compositions not granted to others, could not have included the song at issue in this suit. With one of the publishers' suits dismissed, the case continued with the remaining parties. - LSW


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13. Phil Spector Sued by Love
Highest Court New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
Year Ended 1999
Plaintiffs Love, Darlene
Defendants Spector, Phil
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Darlene Love sued Phil Specter for back-royalties; in 1997 the New York Supreme Court ruled in her favor, but due to a statute of limitations, only awarded her $263,500 going back to 1987. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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14. Country Songwriter Sold Songs
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Tennessee
Year Ended 1996
Plaintiffs Spouse of Artist(s)
Defendants Montgomery, Earl
Other Wynette, Tammy
Short Description Earl Montgommery is a sucessful country songwriter who'd written songs for Tammy Wynette's publishing company, some of which were recorded by Wynette, Emmylou Harris, and others. Short on cash, he sold his rights to one Mr. Nunley in 1975, and thus stopped receiving royalty payments for the compositions thereafter. When the Nunleys divorced, Mrs. Nunley received a check made out to Mr. Nunley and Montgomery, and concluded they'd been conspiring to withhold payments from her. Montgomery, interested in regaining his royalties, alleged the initial sale never happened and said the Nunleys wrongly converted his royalty interests for their benefit. In this opinion, deciding Montgomery's accusations, the appellate court affirmed the lower court's decision against Montgomery. Though he argued the check sent to Mrs. Nunley was the first clue he had as where his royalties had been going, the court found sufficient evidence existed of the earlier sale so as to invalidate Montgomery's claims. Furthermore, the accusations were barred by laches; Montgomery's delay in bringing suit until after Mr. Nunley's death was clearly prejudicial to the Nunleys' ability to defend their rights. - LSW


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15. Starr & NKOTB Owners Bankrupt (I)
Highest Court D. Massachusetts
Year Ended 1996
Plaintiffs Investor(s)
Defendants Starr, Maurice
Other New Kids on the Block
Short Description This lawsuit arose from the bankruptcy proceeding of Jeffrey Furst, one of the original investors and promoters of the New Kids on the Block, along with Maurice Starr and James Martorano. According to Furst, the three of them entered into a joint venture agreement whereby Furst and Martorano would secure investment capital to support their endeavor with the group, in return for which they'd all split royalties earned from the band's success. The band, of course, went on to become immensely successful. After the band broke up and Furst filed for bankruptcy, he sought to classify Starr as his debtor, owing money for royalties made under the venture agreement. Starr sought to dismiss the complaint, alleging the oral joint venture agreement was unenforceable, barred by the Statute of Frauds, i.e. not performable within one year. However, the court construed the Statute literally; only those contracts that "cannot" (essentially, under any circumstances) be performed within one year are barred. Since the New Kids' success was, hopefully to extend beyond one year, it may have been unlikely to complete within the year. But that is insufficient to place the agreement within the Statute. Thus, Starr was held to be a debtor to Furst, according to the valid joint venture agreement reached between the three men. And what of the New Kids themselves, you ask? Well, says the court, they were "portrayed at trial as a bunch of lip-synching, girl-chasing, third rate vocalists-and this would appear to be the judgment of history." - LSW


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16. Lyric Translator vs. Julio Iglesias
Highest Court S.D. Florida
Year Ended 1993
Plaintiffs Songwriter(s)
Defendants Iglesias, Julio
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff assisted Iglesias with translating a French song into Spanish, and was allegedly promised royalties in return, but never received any royalties. She sued Iglesias over 10 years later, asserting numerous contract-based claims. While the claims were not preempted by the copyright, since they were not equivalent to copyright rights, the statute of limitations began when Plaintiff first knew of the deficient payment, and is barred. - LSW


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17. Theater Producer vs. Aretha
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 1990
Plaintiffs Theatrical Producer(s)
Defendants Franklin, Aretha
Music Promoter(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Aretha Franklin entered a contract to perform in a musical play, produced by Plaintiff, but breached the contract, and was sued. Judgment for Plaintiff. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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18. Jabara Wants Payment & Credit
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 1989
Plaintiffs Jabara, Paul
Defendants Koppelman, Charles
Music Producer(s)
Music Publisher(s)
Other Weather Girls
Short Description Paul Jabara is a well-known music producer who has worked with Barbra Streisand and many others, including the relevant artist in this suit, the Weather Girls. Jabara sued his former publisher and associated entities for various contract-related causes of action, all arising from his songwriting and production work for the Weather Girls' recordings and video, and most relating to the nonpayment of supposedly owed moneys. Defendants' motion to dismiss was mostly denied; the actions for nonpayment of royalties and quantum meruit had merit, but because much of the agreement was supposedly oral, other claims were blocked by the Statute of Frauds or parole evidence. - LSW


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19. No Skynyrd Like the Original!
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 1988
Plaintiffs Estate of Artist(s)
Defendants Band Member(s)
MCA Records
Rossington, Gary
Other Lynyrd Skynyrd
Rossington-Collins Band
Van Zandt, Ronnie
Short Description Widow and mother of Ronnie Van Zandt sued Gary Rossington, as well as other members of the band, to prevent them from performing and marketing themselves as Lynyrd Skynyrd, in the form of a live concert video. Plaintiff sued under numerous causes of actions, mostly trademark-related, essentially alleging Defendants previously waived any and all rights to the name, and that there is a likelihood of consumer confusion. After reciting a long history of the band and the parties relations the court denied the injunction, but ordered Defendants to affix a sticker to the release to avoid confusion. - LSW


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20. Mellencamp Wants Royalties
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 1988
Plaintiffs Mellencamp, John
Defendants Music Publisher(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description John Mellencamp sued his music publisher for contractual and fiduciary breach, alleging they'd inadequately promoted his catalog and underpaid royalties under their various agreements . The District Court refused to find fiduciary duties existed by the nature of the songwriter-publisher agreement, instead holding that implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing existed but were not equivalent to fiduciary duties. Though this count was dismissed, Plaintiff was given an opportunity to replead. Regarding contractual claims, the court held Mellencamp's counts were insufficiently pleaded; some Defendants were not party to the contract, and, it seems, neither was Mellencamp (his company was). Again, he was granted time to re-plead his complaints. On Mellencamp's copyright claims, which asserted he'd been orally transferred the copyrights supposedly held by Defendants, the court agreed with Defendants' argument that the Copyright Act's Statute of Frauds provision prevented such a claim--since the alleged transfer was not in writing, it could not be valid--as did the state's Statute of Frauds, since the parties' business relationship required a writing anyway. However, as with everything else, Mellencamp was given permission to re-plead. - LSW


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