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1. Oh, Poor Vinnie Vincent
Highest Court Sixth Circuit
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Vincent, Vinnie
Defendants Band Member(s)
Business Entity of Artist(s)
KISS
Polygram Records
Simmons, Gene
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Vinnie Vincent (nee Cusano) was KISS's lead guitarist from 1982-84, at which time he co-wrote numerous songs that appeared on albums. Though he's not too well known by the population at-large, he's well known in courts of law. Vincent sued the band and its members numerous times during the 1990s and 2000s (see, e.g., "Vinnie Vincent Wants In" (I) and (II), and "Vinnie Vincent vs. Metal Edge"). In the late 1990s, he sued his former band-mates for numerous causes of action, including violation of publicity, defamation, and nonpayment of royalties. He lost the case, and KISS were awarded $80,000 in fees and costs, for which the band members secured a judgment lien on Vincent's copyrights. Vincent filed this Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, as wells as numerous adversary proceedings against various parties, including one against BMI for which he was awarded $2,000 of the $20,000 he requested. After third parties motioned to convert his bankruptcy into Chapter 7, Vincent moved to voluntarily withdraw his petition. The court, noting that Vincent had filed in bad faith, barred him from filing for two years and held that no subsequent filing could impact matters relating to the prior litigation between Vincent and KISS. The appellate court, after addressing preliminary issues, upheld the lower court's finding as to "bad faith." Vincent had filed three times in three years and had withheld financial information from courts adjudicating his proceedings. (Ancillary issues were also discussed, but the "bad faith" issue was, according to the court, the most important.) - LSW


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2. Poison Clan Rapper vs. Record Label
Highest Court Eleventh Circuit
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Band Member(s)
Defendants Individual(s)
Lil' Joe Records
Music Publisher(s)
Other 2 Live Crew
Luke Records
Poison Clan
Short Description Band sued Luke Records after it went bankrupt and was unable to fulfill its contracts with Plaintiff. Judgment for Defendant. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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3. Troutman Bros. Grand Finale (I)
Highest Court Sixth Circuit
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Bankruptcy Trustee(s)
Defendants Business Entity of Artist(s)
Other Troutman, Larry
Troutman, Roger
Zapp
Short Description These documents contain confusing and incredibly drawn-out bankruptcy litigation involving the life insurance of Roger and Larry Troutman. Roger was the former lead singer and guitarist for Zapp (he had a solo career too), and Larry was his brother, also in the band, who murdered Roger, also his business partner, in a purportedly unexplained murder-suicide. Their company had taken out life insurance policies for the brothers not too long before they died, but during bankruptcy proceedings the company failed to disclose this information. After the re-organized business claimed the policy distributions, creditors of the original entity sued for the post-reorganization distributions. After many opinions, back and forth, the court held the insurance policy belonged to the pre-bankruptcy company, and thus its creditors, and the bankruptcy trustee then brought suit against the reorganized entity to return the money paid. The court allowed some of the claims to proceed. Sheesh. - LSW


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4. Levon Helm Goes Bankrupt
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2005
Plaintiffs Helm, Levon
Defendants No Defendants on file
Other Band
Short Description The former drummer and vocalist for the Band, Levon Helm, sought to reject a collection contract in which he owed royalty payments to a third party, an organization that helps artists collect royalties for their prior works. The company, Royalty Recovery, Inc., fought his rejection, but the court granted his request, noting that the contract was "executory," because Helm was required to perform in the recovery of owed moneys. Helm was thus allowed to reject the contract. The court noted a similar contract would not be "execuotry" if the only performance required was payment of money and not any actual action. This is not that case. - LSW & SKR


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5. O'Jays Bankruptcy (I)
Highest Court N.D. Ohio
Year Ended 1994
Plaintiffs Band Member(s)
Defendants No Defendants on file
Other Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
Capitol Records
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
O'Jays
Sony Records
Short Description Eddie Levert, lead singer for the O'Jays, was earlier found to be indebted to the I.R.S. for over $2 million in tax deficiencies, and the I.R.S. secured levies against his royalty payments for publishing and record sales, for nearly the entire amount. When Levert sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which was converted into Chapter 7 liquidation proceedings, the I.R.S. filed a claim to ensure they could continue to apply funds obtained from their prepetition levies to the debts owed. The court held that Levert had no equity in the assets and that the I.R.S. was not adequately protected otherwise (Levert had no other way, really, to pay them back), thus, since the levied assets weren't necessary to his bankruptcy proceeding, the I.R.S. could apply proceeds from prepetition levies until paid off, at which point the proceeds to go to the bankruptcy trustee. His band mate, Walter Williams, had a similar problem ("O'Jays Bankruptcy (II)"). - LSW


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6. O'Jays Bankruptcy (II)
Highest Court N.D. Ohio
Year Ended 1994
Plaintiffs Band Member(s)
Defendants No Defendants on file
Other O'Jays
Short Description Walter Williams isn't as well known as lead singer Eddie Levert, but was a longtime member of and singer for the O'Jays, who ran into essentially the same tax troubles as Levert did in "O'Jays Bankruptcy (I)." After the I.R.S. found Williams over $1 million in debt to the them, they secured levies on his royalty accounts for songwriting and record sales for nearly the entire amount owed. Williams then filed for bankruptcy, and, as in Levert's proceeding, the court found that Williams would otherwise be unable to pay his pre-bankruptcy debts to the I.R.S., and he had no equity interest in the levied assets, thus the I.R.S. were allowed to apply the prepetition levies on his continuous income streams to the debts owed them. - LSW


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7. Willie Nile's Bankruptcy
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 1982
Plaintiffs Nile, Willie
Defendants No Defendants on file
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Recording artist Willie Nile, a lesser-known but critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and sought to reject his recording contract with Arista Records, as was his legal right, for which he'd recorded several albums but left obligations outstanding. When Arista "vehemently" opposed Nile's attempts, he converted his bankruptcy to Chapter 7, hoping to make the process easier. Arista sued to re-convert the proceeding to Chapter 11, at which point they undoubtedly hoped to try forcing the contract on Nile despite his desire otherwise. The court found Arista's scheme unsatisfactory. Not only would forcing Nile to assume the contract defeat the purpose of bankruptcy, which is to afford "fresh starts," but Arista must have known this outcome was a possibility, as this type of litigation isn't exactly uncommon, and outcomes are relatively similar (personal services contracts for individuals' skill are rejectable in bankruptcy). Re-converting the case to Chapter 11, given that Arista cannot force Nile to assume the contract, is pointless. Sorry, Arista. - LSW


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