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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. Jacko's Manager Wants Commission
Highest Court District of Columbia Circuit
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Raymone, Bain
Defendants Jackson, Michael
MJJ Productions
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Raymone Bain is a high profile music manager, agent, publicist, and adviser, who has worked with many big-name celebrities, including Boyz II Men, Sammy Davis, Jr., former D.C. mayor Marion Barry, and, relevant to this suit, Michael Jackson. Bain signed on as Michael's publicist in 2003, but by 2006 had taken an expanded role in his affairs, signing agreements naming Bain his personal manager that guaranteed her 10% finder's fee for projects she initiated. After Bain initiated several such endeavors, such as the 25th anniversary of "Thriller" and Jackson's 2008 Grammy appearance, Jackson cut off all ties to Bain and refused to pay her finder's fee. Jackson died and Plaintiff sued his estate; Defendants pointed to a release Bain signed eight days before Jackson died, which appeared to absolve Defendants of liability. Plaintiff claimed the release was invalid for a number of reasons. First, the court found that Defendants had waived their right to arbitration, according to the contract, by filing an answer in the suit. Second, the court held that the release was clear and unambiguous and barred Plaintiff from pursuing, not just claims for past-due amounts, but any claims arising from the relationship, including unpaid finder's fees. Last, the court found that Plaintiff's arguments contesting the validity of the release--alleging both fraud in the inducement and mistake of fact--were unconvincing. Plaintiff was undoubtedly a very established and savvy businesswomen. Last, because the contract between the parties was valid, Bain's requests for equitable relief failed as well. - LSW


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4. Augustana Management Woes
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Music Manager(s)
Defendants Augustana
Music Manager(s)
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Augustana was among the numerous somewhat "emo"-influenced modern rock bands to emerge during the middle of the new millennium's first decade, catapulted into the spotlight by their song "Boston," which was prominently featured in an episode of "One Tree Hill." After several more albums on Epic Records, the band is, as of spring 2011, still around and signed to Epic. However, relevant to this suit, they now have new management. This suit was brought by their original managers, who were fired by the band in favor of new management suggested by Sony, Epic's parent company. The managers sued the band for breaching their contract, and the band countersued for breach of fiduciary duty; this suit was set for arbitration, as dictated by the contract. However, simultaneously, the managers sued Sony and the band's A&R rep at Sony, alleging the Sony parties encouraged the band to ditch its managers, an act that constituted interference (negligent or intentional) with business relations. Because the contract action was to be arbitrated, the court here held that the interference actions should be stayed pending arbitration. Though the legal theories and issues presented are rather different, there were overlapping evidentiary issues, including documents, witnesses, etc., that would be identical between the two suits. For this reason, the Sony suit was stayed. - LSW


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5. 50 Cent Cancels Another Concert
Highest Court E.D. Virginia
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants 50 Cent
Other Elliot, Missy
Violator Management
Short Description G*Town Entertainment, Inc., entered into a contract with Defendant, Iris.com, to have 50 Cent (and Missy Elliot) perform in Gabon, Africa. Negotiations fell through, and the performance did not occur, but 50 Cent nonetheless received $150,000 in compensation per the terms of the contract. Iris.com moved to compel arbitration according to the arbitration clause of the contract, but 50 Cent filed a motion to suspend arbitration. The court found that there were no issues of material fact to be disputed, granted summary judgment for the defendant, and required the parties to go forward with arbitration proceedings. - SKR & LSW


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6. Former Zippers vs. Squirrel Nut Zippers
Highest Court M.D. North Carolina
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Former Band Member(s)
Defendants Music Manager(s)
Squirrel Nut Zippers
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description In this suit between members of the band the Squirrel Nut Zippers, including the partnership and associated entities, Plaintiffs allege they have not only been underpaid royalties according to the agreement, but were fraudulently induced to sign a liability release. After asserting a wide variety of causes, the court dismissed RICO and Unfair Trade Practice Act claims, allowing claims for fraud, conversion, and breach of contract, despite the alleged waiver. - LSW


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7. Santana's Ex-Employee Sues
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2006
Plaintiffs Music Licensor(s)
Defendants Business Entity of Artist(s)
Family of Artist(s)
Record Label(s)
Santana, Carlos
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Plaintiff had worked as a licensing manager for Carlos Santana and his band and corporate entities, but was fired and replaced by a younger, more "enlightened" woman. Plaintiff, it should be noted, was 58, and was working in an newly-internet-based world. Plaintiff had, at various times, received (though not always signed) various employee handbooks that contained arbitration provisions. When Plaintiff sued, alleging various employment and termination related actions, Defendants sought to compel arbitration according to the handbook. The court, however, found that the mandatory arbitration provision was unenforceable for instituting a 1-year limitations period for all actions possibly arising from the employment, which is against public policy, and also that the provision was unconscionable as well, for the same reasons. - LSW


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8. Don Felder v. Henley, Frey & Azoff
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs Felder, Don
Defendants Azoff, Irving
Eagles
Frey, Glen
Henley, Don
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Don Felder sued Glen Frey, Don Henley and manager Irving Azoff when they regrouped as The Eagles for a 2000 reunion tour; Azoff attempted to compel arbitration, but the appellate court denied the motion. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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9. 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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10. Moody Promoter vs. Moody Blues
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Tennessee
Year Ended 2003
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants Music Promoter(s)
Other Moody Blues
Short Description Plaintiffs were regional concert promoters who entered agreement with Defendants to bring the Moody Blues to the University of Tennessee for $100,000. When the original location was rendered unavailable, Plaintiffs sought to move the performance to a baseball stadium, and sent an addendum to Defendants stating as much. According to Plaintiffs, Defendants agreed to this addendum (i.e. it was not simply an unaccepted counteroffer but a fully-modified agreement), and thus when Defendants later cancelled, saying they didn't want to play in a baseball stadium, they were in breach of contract. When Defendants sought to compel arbitration according to the addendum, Plaintiffs reversed their position and argued the addendum was never accepted by Defendants, and thus the arbitration clause contained therein was unenforceable. The court held that Plaintiffs can't say one thing at trial and then aver the opposite on appeal; they are bound to their assertions below. The arbitration clause was upheld.- LSW


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11. Who Breached Trick Daddy Contract?
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Kentucky
Year Ended 2003
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants Trick Daddy
Trina
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Trick Daddy, a well-known late-1990s rapper, and his protege, Trina, were scheduled to perform for at a concert organized by Plaintiff. According to the established facts, the duo were to be paid $10,000, in advance of the show, at the venue during sound check. The artists failed to show up and perform at the event, and Plaintiff, the show's promoter, sued. However, contractual issues were debated; according to Defendants, they did not appear because they had not been paid in advance as required, while according to Plaintiffs, they were not paid because they didn't show up for the soundcheck. At trial, the jury found for Plaintiff, awarding around $145,000 in lost profits. On appeal, although the court respected the parties' litigation strategies, much of the holding was reversed. First, the court held that it was a question of law, not fact, whether an arbitration clause in a purported "rider" to the contract was enforceable, and thus the jury should not have been allowed to decide the issue. The court's denial of Defendants' summary judgment was proper, but, besides the arbitration error, the damages calculation below, which allowed speculative predictions of ticket sales and lost profits from a scheduled afterparty, were held too speculative and reversed. Procedurally, Trick and Trina's expert witness should have been allowed, some jury instructions were faulty, and Plaintiff's testimony that the artists were too drugged up to perform should have been excluded as overly prejudicial. - LSW


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12. Mobb Deep Cancels Concert
Highest Court Appellate Court of Illinois
Year Ended 2000
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants Mobb Deep
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Mobb Deep was scheduled to perform at Plaintiff's concert in Chicago, but canceled on the day of the performance. After the parties corresponded concerning arbitration, Defendants nevertheless failed to show up at the hearing, and a default judgment for $36,000 was entered. When Defendants failed to pay the award, Plaintiffs moved to enforce the judgment, and Defendants then sought to vacate the award for ineffective service of process and lack of personal jurisdiction, which the trial court denied. The Illinois appellate court, however, vacated the award for lack of "subject matter" jurisdiction, citing an Illinois statute requiring arbitration to be in Illinois for courts in the state to enforce resulting awards, unless the statute is explicitly waived in the parties' contract. The court held that Plaintiff's failure to follow statutory directive deprived the Illinois court of jurisdiction, since the right to enforce arbitration awards is a statutory creation, not common law. Here, the arbitration was required by contract to take place in New York. Thus Defendant's arguments regarding process and personal jurisdiction were moot; Illinois courts had no jurisdiction over the subject matter itself. - LSW


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13. Hootie's First Manager Super Pissed Off
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 1997
Plaintiffs Music Manager(s)
Defendants Business Entity of Artist(s)
Hootie and the Blow Fish
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description The original manager and marketer for Hootie and the Blowfish sued the band for millions and millions of dollars after they fired him, following the success of their debut album. Plaintiff had helped the band secure a record deal while still unknown. Defendants sought to dismiss the complaint on various grounds, including res judicata and prior-signed releases, but the court did not oblige. Defendants' motion to dismiss denied. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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14. Snoop Cancels, Promoter Sues
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 1995
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants Dr. Dre
Knight, Suge
Knight, Suge
Music Manager(s)
Snoop Dogg
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description When Snoop Dogg (then known as Snoop Doggy Dogg) canceled his 1995 tour (with over a year before it was set to begin), multiple plaintiffs in various jurisdictions sued for breach of contract, fraud, etc., arising from the change in plans. This entry combines two such lawsuits, one in Pennsylvania and one in New York. Regarding the Pennsylvania action, Plaintiff brought contract and tort actions against numerous parties related to Snoop (including Interscope Records), all of whom defaulted, resulting in a default judgment against them. In the Pennsylvania opinion, the court allowed Interscope to vacate the judgment, holding it never had a contractual relationship with Plaintiffs and its default was not motivated by bad faith. In the New York action, however, moving Defendants (Snoop's agents for tours and booking) were not granted dismissal of the New York Plaintiff's fraud claims, though it was held they couldn't be liable for contract breach; while agents can be liable for torts committed on their principal's behalf, they are not liable for carrying out the principal's contract breaches. - LSW


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15. Base & E-Z Rock Ditch Gig
Highest Court Superior Court of Rhode Island
Year Ended 1991
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock
Talent Agent(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description After Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock arrived 3 hours late to Plaintiff's concert, thus forcing Plaintiff to cancel the event, Plaintiff sued Defendant performers and associated entities in Rhode Island, where the concert was schedule to perform. The court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss on account of an enforceable arbitration clause requiring a three-member panel in New York, and the court granted Defendant's request. - LSW


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16. Songwriter vs. Rodg & Hamms (III)
Highest Court New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
Year Ended 1986
Plaintiffs Estate of Artist(s)
Defendants Theatrical Manager(s)
Other Rodgers and Hammerstein
Short Description In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the musical duo Rodgers and Hammerstein, through their corporate entity, hired Plaintiff to direct the play, "South Pacific." According to one paragraph of the contract, Plaintiff was to receive 1% of all productions of the play, not just the one he was hired to direct. Thirty-five years after the dissolution of the corporation with whom Plaintiff contracted, he sued, alleging nonpayment of the agreed-upon royalties, and sought to compel arbitration according to the contract. Defendants sought to stay arbitration on the old contract, and the trial court granted the motion. The appellate division reversed for several reasons. While it was unclear to the court whether Plaintiff's remedies could remain so long after the corporation dissolved, he'd undeniably entered a valid arbitration agreement with Defendants' predecessors, who were proper parties for suit, and thus his claims were within the arbitrators' jurisdiction. - LSW


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17. Hank Jr.'s Concert Cancelation
Highest Court District Court of Appeal of Florida
Year Ended 1985
Plaintiffs Music Promoter(s)
Defendants Williams, Hank (Jr.)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Williams contracted to perform at a festival but breached the contract and lost almost $100,000 in judgment favorable to Plaintiff. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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18. Womack's Publishers in a Tiff (II)
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 1985
Plaintiffs Lawyer(s)
Defendants Beverly Glen Music
Individual(s)
Other Womack, Bobby
Short Description Shortly after its lawsuit with publisher ABCKO, Inc. and singer Bobby Womack (see "Womack's Publishers in a Tiff (I)"), Beverly Glen Music failed to pay its legal fees, and the lawyers sued for around $100,000. When Beverly Glen moved to compel arbitration, the court was undecided about whether to allow attachment in the interim, but held Plaintiff likely had a claim and possible arbitration should not prevent attachment when appropriate. - LSW


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19. Early Investor vs. Rick James
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 1982
Plaintiffs Investor(s)
Defendants James, Rick
Stone City Band
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Rick James, between his tenure in the Canadian rock group the Mynah Birds (along with Neil Young and members of Steppenwolf), who recorded a few sides for Motown, and his later success as a "Superfreak," received investments through Plaintiff, a Canadian barrister interested in boosting James' career. According to two different contracts signed, one containing an arbitration provision and one not, James was to repay Plaintiff fixed sums lent as well as percentages of follow-up income. When Plaintiff sued in California, James denied residency within the state and sought other reasons for dismissal, but he never referenced arbitration. When he later sought to compel arbitration, the court held he'd earlier waived the right. Additionally, he not only lived in Los Angeles, but had been pictured in an interview in front of the house he claimed didn't exist when Plaintiff sued. The California appellate court affirmed the trial courts denial of James' motion to compel arbitration. - LSW


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20. 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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