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1. Mighty Clouds Guitarist Committed?
Highest Court Seventh Circuit
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Back-Up Musician(s)
Defendants Police Officer(s)
Other Mighty Clouds of Joy
Short Description Plaintiff is apparently a rather unfortunate musician. He's the lead guitarist in the Mighty Clouds of Joy (a gospel group of renown), and also the proprietor of a car-detailing shop. According to the facts in this case, following a minor incident he was jailed, then later committed to a mental asylum, where he avoided more extreme committal by recognizing the name on an officer's badge as a relative of one of his shop's customers. He sued for multiple instances of inadequate medical treatment, but was only granted default judgment for injuries resulting from inattention to his dislocated shoulder, and not those resulting from slipping on excrement from an overflowed toilet. Wow. Plaintiff gets about $33,000-54,000, including potential punitive damages. - LSW


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2. The Game Defame Officers?
Highest Court Court of Appeals of North Carolina
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Police Officer(s)
Defendants Black Wall Street Records
Bungalo Records
DJ Skee
Film Producer(s)
Game (The)
Music Publisher(s)
Nu Jerzey Devil
Universal Video
Website Proprietor(s)
Youtube
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description While Defendant, rap artist The Game, was at a mall before a show (with his entourage), a mall security guard called police after their language and behavior became disruptive. When the police showed up, one of them began pepper-spraying the crew. Everything was caught on film, and released as an extra on DVD. Images from the altercation were included in packaging and advertising designs. Plaintiffs, police officers involved, sued for various torts, including defamation and commercial appropriation of publicity. When the trial court dismissed some, but not all of the claims, Plaintiffs sought to appeal the interlocutory order, but the appellate court held no substantial right would be lost if appeal was postponed until after trial. The video can be found online, and it's kind of funny watching this tiny white guy freak out and pepper spray The Game's crew (in my opinion), since they seem more confused and annoyed than seriously threatened - LSW


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3. 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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4. Cop Hassles Country Star
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Kentucky
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Police Officer(s)
Defendants Montgomery, John Michael
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description John Michael Montgomery is a country music star whose biggest hits were released in the mid-1990s. Plaintiff in this case was a police officer who had arrested Montgomery for driving under the influence and other crimes. After Montgomery's arrest, Plaintiff was investigated by the police department and terminated for incompetence, insubordination, dishonesty, and other reasons. This absurd lawsuit (in The Discography's opinion) revolved around Plaintiff's allegations that Montgomery wronged him in various ways during his interview with the police department related to Plaintiff's conduct, such as by telling authorities that Plaintiff took Montgomery's cowboy hat as a souvenir and that Plaintiff acted inappropriately and targeted Montgomery because he was a celebrity. Plaintiff brought actions for infliction of emotional distress, slander, and abuse of process. The trial court dismissed all of Plaintiff's complaints and the appellate court affirmed. Not only was the investigation into Plaintiff not a "judicial process" sufficient for an abuse of process action, but the investigation was not instigated by Montgomery in the first place. No intentional infliction of emotional distress was stated either; none of the statements were "beyond all possible bounds of decency" and there was no causation between Montgomery's statements and Plaintiff's distress. Last, the statements were not slanderous, in large part, because they represented Montgomery's "pure opinion." Plaintiff's motions to dismiss (even if treated as summary judgment) were properly granted.


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5. 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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6. Former Employee vs. Puffy (I)
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Defendants Bad Boy Entertainment
City Entity and/or Official(s)
Combs, Sean
Police Officer(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description A two-time former employee of Bad Boy, Sean Combs' entertainment company, was terminated but given "contact sheets" that contained job leads with other music industry companies. The Plaintiff did not open the envelope until some time later and discovered the envelope contained Combs' personal info, so the Plaintiff contacted Combs to return the sheets. After the meeting, Combs became suspicious that Plaintiff had stolen his Grammy award. Shortly thereafter, the Plaintiff, a diabetic, received a phone call to attend what he thought was a job interview. He arrived at the address to learn it was a police station, where an officer questioned him for hours concerning the contact sheets and missing Grammy Award. The Plaintiff wound up being transported to the hospital for diabetic shock multiple times, and was charged with several counts. The Plaintiff sued Combs and the police. He alleged that Combs conspired to violate his civil rights with the arrest. The Court determined Combs had not acted in concert with a state actor to deprive the Plaintiff of his rights. While Combs may have filed a false report, that would not give rise to the claim the Plaintiff was making. The court then dismissed the various charges of conspiracy and false imprisonment. - JMC


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7. Ticked Off Police Go To Court
Highest Court E.D. Michigan
Year Ended 2003
Plaintiffs Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Police Officer(s)
Defendants Aftermath Entertainment
Amazon.com
AOL-Time-Warner
Barnes & Noble
Best Buy
Blockbuster
Borders Group, Inc.
Circuit City
Dr. Dre
Individual(s)
Interscope Records
Johnson, Ervin "Magic"
Music Retailer(s)
Other Eminem
Ice Cube
Snoop Dogg
Short Description When Detroit officials, citing obscenity statutes, demanded a Snoop, Dre, Ice Cube, and Eminem not play a video during the opening of a local performance of their "Up in Smoke Tour," members of the artists' entourage and tour staff recorded multiple conversations with the officials, and later released them as bonus tracks on a commercial DVD. Various officials and members of the police force, whose voices or images were captured in the footage, sued for numerous causes of action, but all the state claims were dismissed by the federal court, which refused to exercise supplemental jurisdiction. Only the federal wiretap claims went to the judge on motions for summary judgment. Plaintiffs claimed Defendants intercepted, disclosed, and used footage wrongfully obtained. The District Court denied Defendants motion to dismiss on the "one party consent exception," finding Plaintiffs stated a cognizable claim Defendants intended to use the footage for tortious purposes, and allowed Plaintiffs to amend. Following this holding, a parallel state court proceeding was decided in Defendants' favor, holding Plaintiffs were aware their conversations were not private, but proceeded anyway. When the federal District Court visited Defendants' motion for summary judgment after the state ruling, it applied the doctrine of collateral estoppel, finding the issue precluded, having already been determined by a competent state court. - LSW


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8. 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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9. Injury at STP Show in Illinois
Highest Court Court of Claims of Illinois
Year Ended 2003
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Music Promoter(s)
Police Officer(s)
State Entity and/or Official(s)
Other Stone Temple Pilots
Short Description Stone Temple Pilots fans sued the State of Illinois and a music promoter for injuries sustained at a concert held on state fairgrounds, allegedly inflicted by moshing, crowd surfing, and other common activities at grunge gigs. Plaintiffs' claims against the promoter (JAM) had been previously dismissed, so the remaining issue was whether Illinois owed duties to prevent such actitivies, to protect audience members from them, and to provide "adequate security." Plaintiffs were unable to show thjat the state owed "law enforcement duties" to do so, and the court similarly held that premises liability accusations failed. Though the law imposed a duty on Plaintiffs to warn and protect the audience from raucous crowd behavior it reasonably knew would occur, the audience was already invariably aware of it as well, and no evidence showed Defendants anticipated or responded negligently. There was no way Defendants could have predicted the enormity of the crowd and the intensity of its reaction. Though, perhaps, Defendants might be expected to be better prepared at future concerts, they can't be said to have been negligent here. Further, under a comparative negligence rubric, Plaintiffs failed to claim, much less prove, that they hadn't also anticipated the apparently inevitable danger flannel-clad crowds presented. Plaintiffs were at least as negligent as Defendants, if Defendants were negligent at all. - LSW


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10. George Michael Defames Officer?
Highest Court Ninth Circuit
Year Ended 2002
Plaintiffs Police Officer(s)
Defendants Michael, George
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description A police officer sued Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, better known as George Michael, after the former arrested the latter during Michael's highly publicized rest-stop sex incident. During interviews, Michael alleged the officer entrapped him by committing lewd acts of his own before Michael followed suit. The officer, Plaintiff in this suit, sued Michael for these public statements and for the lyrics and accompanying music video for his new song, "Outside," which depicted the incident from Michael's perspective. Plaintiff alleged slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court dismissed all counts, but the appellate court reversed and remanded regarding Plaintiff's slander allegations derived from Michael's public interviews. Plaintiff argued the statements were "slander per se," because, if true, they 1) suggested Plaintiff committed a crime and 2) imputed general unfitness to perform Plaintiff's police duties. The court found issues of fact indeed existed, saying Michael's statements asserted "facts," not opinions, and if disproven, could form the basis of a slander claim. Further, Michael's statements were not protected by California's "litigation privilege," because they were not made in anticipation of ligitation, but afterwards. A very impassioned dissent disagreed: Michael's accusations that Plaintiff acted inappropriately in an official capacity should be protected and taken seriously, not used as the basis for Plaintiff to reach into Michael's "deep pockets," no pun intended. - LSW


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11. Ruffed Up at the Black Crowes Gig
Highest Court Sixth Circuit
Year Ended 2002
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Music Promoter(s)
Police Officer(s)
Security Guard(s)
Other Black Crowes
Short Description Plaintiff sued Defendant for negligence after allegedly being assaulted by security guards and police officers at a Black Crowes concert in Detroit, Michigan. Plaintiff was awarded $1.2 million by a jury at trial, and Defendant appealed, seeking a new trial and arguing that the jury award was excessive. The court denied Defendant's motion for a new trial and held that the jury award was not excessive. - SKR


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12. Police at Fault for Concert Trampling?
Highest Court New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
Year Ended 1999
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Combs, Sean
Educational Institution(s)
Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Police Officer(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description In 1991, before Sean "Puff Daddy"/"Puffy"/"P. Ditty" Combs was the uber famous rapper, producer, and mogul he is today, he hosted a celebrity basketball game at the City College of New York, co-coaching the two teams with Heavy D, which resulted in an idiotic stampede amongst the attendees that killed nine people and injured others. Apparently, the stampede resulted when fans tried to rush into the event, which might have been oversold or inadequately staffed. Puffy and Heavy were held liable, though this case only dealt with the liability of the State of New York and the police department, who were present at the event, which was held on State-owned property. The court held the state and municipal entities were shielded from liability under governmental immunity; to hold them liable, Plaintiffs would need to show the government assumed responsiblity for planning, security, or management of the event. This was not shown. They were acting in their usual capacity at the time. For the resulting insurance coverage dispute, see "Puff and D's Stampede Insurance." - LSW


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13. 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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14. Cops vs. Punk Rock Album Art
Highest Court E.D. Pennsylvania
Year Ended 1996
Plaintiffs Fraternal Order of Police
Police Officer(s)
Defendants Alternative Tentacles Records
Biafra, Jello
Borders Group, Inc.
Crucifucks
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description The Fraternal Order of Police of Philadelphia posted a sign, hoping to raise money, including a staged photograph of a slain cop, with a caption reading: "You wouldn't sacrifice your life for a million bucks. . . A Philadelphia Police officer does it for a lot less." When the Crucifucks (an anti-capitalist, anti-government, and all-around cliched and naive political punk band) used the photograph, without the text, the Fraternal Order sued for various violations of privacy, as well as defamation, common law copyright infringement, and others. In addition to the Crucifucks and their record label, the Frat sued Borders as well, likely as "deep pocket" defendants. Only Borders responded, and successfully received summary judgment on all counts; the Fraternal Order had no causes of action for privacy, since it's not an individual, and the police officer in the photo had nothing either, since, inter alia, his "likeness" had no stated value, the image was not susceptible to defamatory interpretations, and common law copyright was preempted (in this case) by the Copyright Act. After a default judgment was entered against the Crucifucks and their label, never having responded, they were successful in having the judgment reversed; Borders' arguments worked equally well for them, and their neglect was excusable. - LSW


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15. Smokey Arrested By Mistake
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 1974
Plaintiffs Robinson, Smokey
Defendants Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Police Officer(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description In 1967, an individual rented a limousine for three days, impersonating Smokey Robinson. The limo owner filed a complaint, and Robinson sued the city and police department after he was arrested at a San Francisco nightclub. Officers arrested him despite his attempts to show them he was not the individual on the warrant, and that they just shared aliases. The police officer made no effort to figure out if Robinson was actually Robinson. At trial, Robinson was found not guilty. A police officer has immunity for false arrest if the arrest was without malice and in reasonable belief that the person arrested is the person in the warrant. Robinson argued that the jury could have questioned the reasonableness of the officer's actions. The Appellate Court reversed the summary judgment for the police officer because a jury could decide whether the officer's was unreasonable in not allowing Robinson to prove his identity at the arrest. - JMC


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16. Entertainment Regulations Consitutional?
Highest Court New York Supreme Court
Year Ended 1961
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Jones, Quincy
Music Proprietor(s)
Simone, Nina
Defendants Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Police Officer(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description In Nina Simone's early days as a performer in "cabarets" in New York, she sued the commissioner of police of New York in a class action lawsuit (brought on behalf of similarly situated performers), alleging the commissioner's registration and licensing system for cabaret performers, including fingerprinting and "service" fees for identification cards, was an unconstitutional law or, in the alternative, that the city lacked the authority to pass the regulation. Although a previous case already determined that the law was legal, Plaintiff argued a subsequent case (discussing a different regulation) superseded the earlier suit upholding the regulation challenged here. Under recent precedent, Plaintiff argued, the law was invalid. The court disagreed; the case cited by Plaintiff cited a much more intrusive law relating to employment agencies. Plaintiff's claims were dismissed. - LSW


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