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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. Gene Simmons's Ex Sues
Highest Court New York Supreme Court
Year Ended 2005
Plaintiffs Girlfriend of Artist(s)
Defendants Simmons, Gene
Viacom
Other KISS
Short Description Plaintiff, now married, was a former sexual and romantic partner of Gene Simmons, lead singer for the glam/metal/theatrical rock act KISS, prior to and after formation of the band. Plaintiff sued various television entities for defamation and violation of her right of publicity when her relationship with Simmons was portrayed in a VH-1 documentary about the band. The caption for the segment in which she appeared was "24 Hour Whore" (classy, VH-1, classy), though this comment was intended to implicate Simmons as the whore, not Plaintiff. Plaintiff's photograph was shown on screen while Simmons discussed his promiscuity, sleeping with any woman, no "matter who they were, what size, shape or anything." The court denied Defendants' motion to dismiss, saying the feature was susceptible to defamatory meaning. Simmons' promiscuity could certainly be imputed by viewers onto Plaintiff (and even if not, it certainly made her seem "unchaste"). Regarding Plaintiff's publicity claim, however, the court found Defendants' use of her likeness was not "for advertising purposes," and thus the claim was dismissed. - LSW


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