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1. Sammy Davis, Jr.'s Legacy
Highest Court N.D. Texas
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Estate of Artist(s)
Financial Institution(s)
Spouse of Artist(s)
Defendants Financial Institution(s)
Financial Professional(s)
Other Davis, Sammy (Jr.)
Short Description Sammy Davis, Jr., was undoubtedly one of the most iconic musical stars of the twentieth century, and his death left behind piles of money, royalties, and assorted enforceable rights for his family. After his death, Sammy's wife, Altovise, formed a corporation with Defendants, including a financial institution and its named owner, to handle the royalty income, publicity rights, etc., for the deceased star. In forming their corporation, the parties agreed that Altovise would transfer her interests to the new corporation, but that after five years she would be given the assets back in return for a payment of $1. After the time limit was reached and she tendered the required payment, Defendants refused to remit the properties and interests to Plaintiffs, which include Altovise's estate and assorted corporate and financial entities. Defendants argued that Plaintiffs could not enforce the terms of the agreements because Altovise had previously materially breached the contract by withholding royalties. The court denied Plaintiffs' motion to strike statements made by various Defendants, which were relevant to Defendants' equitable defenses. However, on Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction preventing Defendants from continuing to exploit the contested assets while withholding payment to Plaintiffs, the court found that Defendants were indeed spending money belonging to the corporation, not paying Plaintiffs their 1/3 interest in the corporation's profits, and publicly declaring that Defendants owned all the corporation's assets. Defendants were enjoined from spending any more money or writing checks to anyone other than the court, from holding themselves out as owners of the assets, from selling or transferring shares in the company to anyone other than Plaintiff (or anyone at all). - LSW


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2. Ex-Recording Artist vs. Usher and Alicia
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Songwriter(s)
Defendants Arista Records
Business Entity of Artist(s)
Dre & Vidal
Dupri, Jermaine
EMI April Music
EMI Music
Film Studio(s)
Hitco Music
Keys, Alicia
La Face Records
Music Executive(s)
Music Manager(s)
Music Publisher(s)
Record Label(s)
Songwriter(s)
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Sony Music
Sony/ATV Music
Toby, Ryan
Universal Music
Usher
Zomba Records
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description The facts of this immense lawsuit--which involves numerous defendants--are somewhat unique. Oftentimes, unknown artists sue huge companies and successful artists alleging copyright infringement, usually with little-to-no evidence that the defendants ever knew of the plaintiff or plaintiff's songs. In this case, Plaintiff was a songwriter and recording artist who signed briefly with Alicia Key's record label, a subsidiary of J Records, and began recording songs to be released. After some of the songs were finished, the record label offered to buy some of her songs for use with other artists on the label, such as Usher. Plaintiff, recognizing that the agreements would divest her of all royalty and ownership rights--she'd be a "ghost writer"--refused the deal. According to Plaintiff, Defendants nevertheless used her songs on Usher's album, "Confessions," as well as with other artists on the label's roster. Unfortunately for Plaintiff, her song, "Caught Up," which was one that Defendants wanted to use, was nothing like the Usher song of the same name. The court compared both lyrics and melody between the two songs and found that, despite Plaintiff's allegations and undeniable claims of access, the Usher song was not copied from Plaintiff's. Perhaps the phrase "caught up" was copied, but that in-and-of-itself was insufficient to comprise copyright infringement. With the sole federal claim dismissed, the court declined jurisdiction over the remaining state claims, and Plaintiff's action was disposed of entirely. - LSW


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3. Contract with Chipmunks Breached
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Defendants Capitol Records
Other Bogdasarian, Ross
Chipmunks
Short Description Alvin and the Chipmunks first came to prominence during the 1960s, but long after their creator died, his son revived the business in the 1980s, which turned out to be immensely popular among kids of the day and ever since. This lawsuit arose from a contract signed in 1968 between Ross Bagdasarian, the Chipmunk's creator, and Capitol Records, the successor-in-interest to Liberty Records, with whom Bagdasarian agreed the Chipmunk's albums would be made. However, over the years since, Capitol has licensed the sound recordings for many other purposes, such as background music in television and movies. This lawsuit alleged that such licensing overstepped the terms of the contract, which only provided Capitol the rights to make phonograph reproductions. Despite the 40 years that had passed since the contracts were signed, the court held that Plaintiff's actions were not barred by statutes of limitation or the doctrine of laches. Furthermore, the court interpreted the contract according to Plaintiff's reading; the agreement only gave Defendant permission to make records, but not to license the songs. Defendants' extrinsic evidence only reinforced this interpretation. Though copyrights do not apply to pre-1972 sound recordings, such as those subject to the 1968 contract, Plaintiff's intangible property right in the recordings were based in a California statute preventing "plagiarism" under an unfair competition rubric. The appellate court reversed the trial court's finding for Defendant as a matter of law. - LSW


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4. Snuff Sells Songbook
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Garrett, "Snuff"
Defendants Music Publisher(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Thomas "Snuff" Garrett is successful record producer whose client list includes Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Sonny & Cher, and many others, and who is well-known for having hired Phil Spector as a producer at Liberty Records, where Snuff was on staff. In this case, Snuff and Defendant reached an agreement wherein Defendant would purchase Snuff's music publishing back catalog. The agreement had two parts: first, Defendant would purchase the bulk of his catalog for over $500,000, and, second, if Snuff was able to obtain all the appropriate rights from the songwriters for the song "Half Breed," which was a big hit in 1973 for Cher, Defendant would buy that song alone for over $300,000. However, Defendant only guaranteed it would purchase the latter song if Snuff could clear the rights within 30 days of the first transaction. After the first transaction took place, as the 30 day window was narrowing, communications between the parties led Snuff to believe the 30-day restriction had been waived, or at least momentarily extended. When Snuff tendered the cleared rights, Defendants refused to purchase. On Snuff's breach of contract claim, the court was unsympathetic. The contract clearly required him to tender "Half Breed" within 30 days. However, because Defendants' lawyers' conduct could be interpreted as waiving the requirement, the court denied Defendants' motion for summary judgment, saying a jury could find Defendant was equitably estopped from enforcing the provision. Snuff's fraud claim was disposed of, however. - LSW


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5. Village Person vs. Village People
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Defendants Band Member(s)
Other Village People
Short Description The Village People, though their name and image was been well-preserved through the years and has undoubtedly become a staple reference in American pop culture, enjoyed only a brief period of success, between the years 1977 and 1979. The band was formed by a production company that owned all associated trademarks to the band's name and image. In their initial existence, Defendant was the "cop" persona and a lead singer in the band. After Defendant left the band in 1979, the group re-grouped numerous times with different members. Plaintiff in this case is the corporate entity formed by the other members, which received permission from the trademarks' owner. Near the end of the first decade of the 2000s, Defendant began to threaten Plaintiff and the band's new members, alleging their performances constituted "fakes" and consistently reiterating that he intended to "dry up" their commercial feasibility. He even attended various events in his cop uniform and intimated what appeared to be gun shot hand motions. After the sent a cease and desist letter and communicated with various third parties that intended to book the band, all explaining his intention to sue the band, Plaintiff brought actions for interference with contracts and business, unfair trade practices, and more. Defendant counter-claimed and asserted several affirmative defenses. Of importance to this court opinion, Defendant cited California's "Anti-SLAPP" statute, which allows Defendants to strike complaints that chill protected speech activities. Unfortunately for Defendant, the court found, first, that Plaintiff's suit arose from much more than his letter, a "pre-litigation communication," but also from his numerous other actions and blatant attempts to interfere with their success. Second, they had demonstrated a probable success on the merits of their complaint. Thus, Defendants' Anti-SLAPP motion was denied. - LSW


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6. Which Grupo Bryndis is Legit?
Highest Court W.D. Texas
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Band Member(s)
Business Entity of Artist(s)
Defendants Band Member(s)
Other Grupo Bryndis
Short Description Grupo Bryndis is an internationally-known Mexican musical group that has existed in some form continuously since 1983. Plaintiffs in this case are the band's recognized leader and the corporation he controls. Despite the band's successes, it appears no one had ever applied for and received a federal trademark for their name. Defendants are former members of the group who formed a new band, initially called Bohemios de Bryndis, that later began billing itself as Grupo Bryndis, and then filed a trademark application for the name. Plaintiff sued for numerous trademark- and property-related causes of action, requesting a preliminary injunction preventing the band from using the name further. The court found that, despite the confusion that might occur among the band's fans due to two different bands using the same name, monetary damages were sufficient to remedy any harm done to Plaintiff, and thus a preliminary injunction, which requires irreparable harm causing damage that cannot be cured by adequate remedies at law, was inappropriate. - LSW


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7. 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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8. 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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9. Intruders Intruding on Intruders
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Band Member(s)
Defendants Band Member(s)
Business Entity of Artist(s)
Other Intruders
Short Description This is a classic type of case, in which an old R&B band, here The Intruders (the foundation for the "Sound of Philadelphia"), split off into multiple touring units, each managed by a former prominent member of the band. Plaintiff claimed to have been transferred ownership of the name, and sued Defendants for various counts, including trademark infringement, unfair competition, and interference with performance contracts, the latter arising from Defendant calling clubs and advising them that Plaintiff was not the "real" Intruders. Over several opinions, the court found that neither faction had received title to the name from the name's original owner, but that Defendants had a license, which they could enforce against Plaintiff. To determine this, the court followed the "chain of title" to the band's name. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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10. Misfits Tick Off Misfits
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Band Member(s)
Defendants Band Member(s)
Business Entity of Artist(s)
Other Danzig
Misfits
Short Description The Misfits are among the most popular and iconic of the early punk rock boom, with peak years in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Perhaps most famously, the band was the launching pad for lead singer Glen Danzig, better known simply as "Danzig," who has since had a lucrative, if not sometimes comical, solo career. After the band dissolved in the early-mid 1980s, their popularity nevertheless increased, and, in 1992, a lawsuit erupted between the members regarding rights to the songs and other intellectual property. A settlement, reached in 1994, determined that, though Danzig wrote the band's songs, the trademarks and merchandising rights were co-owned by the plaintiffs in that suit and Danzig, and that both parties could exploit the logo and goods without accounting to the other for their profit. Plaintiffs in this suit, members of the band during 1978-1982, were not parties to that suit, but allege they were assured that no member would seek exclusive trademark rights to the name. The band re-grouped shortly after the earlier settlement, and still exist today. When Plaintiffs learned that Defendants, members of the current line-up and the corporation they control, had registered trademarks for the Misfit and its logos, Plaintiffs sued, alleging fraud on the trademark office, a declaratory judgment of co-ownership of the name, and requesting cancellation of the registration and an accounting of profits. However, the court found that New York courts lacked general personal jurisdiction over Defendants, New Jersey residents and a New Jersey corporation, even though Defendants have performed and sold merchandise in New York, because they do not maintain an office, solicit business, keep bank accounts, own property, or have employees or agents there. Furthermore, Plaintiffs' trademark claims do not "arise from" their activities in the state, so no specific jurisdiction was shown either. Last, Plaintiff's claims for an accounting were simply unfounded. - LSW


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11. Midnight Idol's Pilot: "Pay Me!"
Highest Court D. Nevada
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Airplane Pilot(s)
Defendants Chartered Airliner(s)
Newton, Wayne
Other Business Entity of Artist(s)
MGM Grand Hotel
Short Description Wayne Newton. The Midnight Idol. Mr. Las Vegas. Mr. Entertainment. As one of the most well-known and successful entertainers in American history, it is unsurprising he's had many financial difficulties over the years. This recent lawsuit was brought by a former airplane pilot, who was hired by Newton in 2003 for a minimum of 10 years, but was terminated shortly thereafter. Plaintiff and Newton reached a settlement agreement, which Newton subsequently breached, and Plaintiff was awarded almost $1/2 million in damages. To satisfy the judgment, Plaintiff obtained garnishments and levies against various moneys owed to Newton by the MGM Grand and the company that paid Newton's weekly salary. MGM filed an interpleader action to determine who was owed money it had collected for Newton's performance. Plaintiff filed an interpleader as well, and Newton's employer filed a motion to intervene, alleging its assets could not be garnished, since it was not a judgment debtor but just an employer of a debtor. First, the court found that the employer's motion to intervene should be granted, since its interests were directly affected by the interpleaders previously filed. However, the employer's motion to quash the garnishment was denied; though there was no reason to "pierce the corporate veil" and find Newton and his employer were one and the same, Newton was an employee, president, and director of the company, so Plaintiff could properly garnish his earnings within the company's possession. - LSW


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12. Hagar's Taco Business Bumbles
Highest Court N.D. California
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Defendants Restaurant Proprietor(s)
Other Hagar, Sammy
Short Description Red Head, Inc. licensed Rock Hard Taco to use the name and likeness of Sammy Hagar in connection with their Taco restaurant, Cabo Wabo Cantina. When Defendant's restaurant failed to live up to Plaintiff's expectations, Defendant was notified of the breach and told to cease using trademarks. The court granted Plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction, requiring Defendants to change their menus so as not to associate itself with Sammy Hagar or anything evincing his likeness. The court granted Plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction--there was a likelihood of success on the merits and imminent injury to Hagar's reputation if Defendants continued--but refused Plaintiff's request to attach Defendant's property by court order, saying there was no reason to assume Defendant would be unable to follow through on its financial obligations. - LSW


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13. Andre 3000 vs. Cybersquatter
Highest Court E.D. California
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Andre 3000
Business Entity of Artist(s)
Clothing Manufacturer(s)
Defendants Individual(s)
Other Outkast
Short Description Plaintiff is Andre Benjamin, better known as Andre 3000, half of the hip-hop duo Outkast and owner of a clothing line called Benjamin Bixby. Defendants are father and son, the latter named Ben Bixby. After Andre announced his plans to launch the Bixby clothing line, Defendants registered domain names like benjaminbixby.com, benjaminbixbyclothing.com, and other similar names. When Plaintiffs inqured, Defendants alleged they intended to use the sites to showcase little Ben Bixby's motocross photography, and said Plaintiff's $5,000 offer for the domain names was insufficient. Then (here's where it gets ridiculous), Defendants posted on their website images of clothing and messages indicating the intent to sell clothing, but nothing about motocross. Further, they used "Andre 3000," "Outkast," and other similarly confusing terms as metatags, so the site would come up in search engines for Plaintiff and his companies. Man, that's bogus. Of course, this opinion doesn't discuss the substance of the complaint, but merely granted Defendants' motion to transfer the action to Michigan, where Defendants reside and where their infringing acts took place. While Defendants' case seems pretty weark, they most likely succeeded in annoying the hell out of Andre 3000. - LSW


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14. Stones Tour Co. vs. Stones Merchandiser
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Defendants Music Merchandiser(s)
Other Rolling Stones
Short Description This case is a good example of how immensely popular bands must handle their activities and proprietary interests through temporary corporations. Plaintiff in this suit was a corporation created solely for to handle the Rolling Stones' 2005 tour, called "A Bigger Bang." Defendant was an outside company exclusively licensed by Plaintiff to use various trademarks, copyrights (including songs and images), and other band interests, in conjunction with smartphone campaigns. Slightly before the contract between Plaintiff and Defendant, the Stones' record label, Virgin Records, also licensed some of the exclusive properties to a third party, SanDisk, who then licensed it for Palm's PDA handheld devices. After Defendant learned of the Virgin/Palm licenses, it told Plaintiff of the breach and failed to perform under the contract. Both parties alleged breach. The trial court found the Virgin license did not violate the exclusivity of the Plaintiff/Defendant license, because the label did not license anything to another phone product, but to an allowed third party, who then licensed it to another; Plaintiff was not involved in these actions and did not authorize the SanDisk/Palm endeavor in violation of the contract. Defendant's argument that Plaintiff's warrantees of ownership were invalid could not stand, as the contract contained a clause prohibiting Defendant from challenging Plaintiff's proprietary status. On Defendant's counterclaims, however, the court denied both parties' summary judgment, saying genuine issues of fact still existed whether Plaintiff made false representations or violated an express warranty. The District Court denied both parties' motions for reconsideration, but allowed Defendant leave to amend its complaint to re-state counts relating to an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. - LSW


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15. Lil Wayne Unhappy with Quincy's Film
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Lil' Wayne
Defendants Film Producer(s)
Jones, Quincy
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description This case involved a dispute regarding an agreement between Lil' Wayne and Defendant to produce a 90-minute biographical film about Lil' Wayne's life. Lil' Wayne argued that Defendant breached a provision in the contract granting him "a sole right of final approval" for scenes that might depict him engaged in criminal behavior, or that might adversely affect his pending gun possession and drug possession cases in New York and Arizona, respectively. The Defendant allegedly breached this provision by including a scene in the film depicting Lil' Wayne engaging in criminal activity by "misusing medication," despite Lil Wayne's objections to that scene's inclusion in the film. Lil' Wayne sought a preliminary injunction against Defendant, but the contract that he signed contained an anti-injunction provision. Despite Lil' Wayne's argument that the anti-injunction provision is unconscionable since Defendant refused to negotiate it, the Court enforced the provision, denying Lil' Wayne an injunction. Judgment for Defendant. - SKR


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16. James Brown Bonds?
Highest Court New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Brown, James
Business Entity of Artist(s)
Defendants Financial Institution(s)
Pullman, David
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description This lawsuit involves an obscure little investment vehicle known as a "Pullman Bond," though it is probably better known as a "Bowie Bond," named after David Bowie, the pop star that first utilized it. In the late 1990s, Bowie issued asset-backed securities of revenues generated by his pre-1990 albums, offering an interest rate of 7.9%, to be paid out of royalties from those albums. Bowie cashed in $55 million from the deal, though he forfeited 10 years worth of royalties (the life of the bonds). This lawsuit does not involve Bowie, but James Brown, who used a similar process in securing a $26 million loan from Defendant, the Pullman Group for which the Pullman Bond is known, shortly after Bowie's deal was finished. Brown pledged future revenue in exchange for the $26 million loan, but also promised Pullman, in writing, that he would refinance the assets "upon future recoupment of the securities" with Pullman alone. When Brown tried refinancing through a third party, Pullman sent a notice to that company, as well as Brown and his entities. The refinancing transaction broke down, and Brown sued for declaratory judgment of non-breach and for interference with business relationships. Pullman counterclaimed for declaratory judgment and breach of contract. The definition of "recoupment," as intended by the parties, determined whether there was a breach. Brown's claims for interference with business were dismissed, since Pullman's letter was only intended to explain its financial interest. So was Pullman's action for breach, since the refinancing, if it were a breach, was never consummated. Furthermore, a declaration of breach or non-breach is pointless, because the refinancing was abandoned. - LSW


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17. Bing's Company Wants Royalties
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Family of Artist(s)
Trust of Artist(s)
Defendants GRP Records
MCA Records
Universal Records
Universal Studios
Other Crosby, Bing
Short Description HLC Properties, the corporation responsible for the business interests, intellectual property rights, and general commercial exploitation of Bing Crosby's career, sued MCA Records and associated entities for numerous counts arising from the latter breaching recording contracts entered with Bing over the years. They alleged breach of contract, implied covenants, and fiduciary duties, as well as numerous equitable remedies. During discovery, Plaintiffs claimed attorney-client privilege transferred from Bing Crosby to HLC Properties, while Defendants claimed Bing's privilege attached to his estate; HLC could not claim the privilege, since it did not apply to them. The court agreed with Defendants, holding the initial privilege attached to Bing personally, and not HLC, thus HLC could not claim attorney client privilege regarding documents exchanged between Bing and his attorneys. After discovery, the court granted summary judgment regarding certain claims, such as breach of fiduciary duties, in Defendants' favor, but decided contractual breach theories on the merits, without a jury, in Plaintiffs' favor. The appellate court found that, while the summary adjudication had been correctly granted, the contract claims were legal in nature, not equitable, and thus Plaintiffs' claims, even though decided in Plaintiffs' favor, nevertheless should have been tried before a jury, as Plaintiff claimed. Those issues were remanded for retrial according to proper procedures. - LSW


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18. Battle Over Doors' Name
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Densmore, John
Estate of Artist(s)
Defendants Astbury, Ian
Doors of the 21st Century
Kreiger, Robby
Manzarek, Ray
Music Promoter(s)
Other Cult
Doors
Morrison, Jim
Short Description John Densmore and other assorted Doors-related parties sued Ray Manzarek, Robby Kreiger, Ian Astbury (of The Cult!), and other associated entities for touring under the name "The Doors of the 21st Century," alleging numerous causes of action arising from the band's moniker's intentional similarity to the original Doors' name. The holding in Plaintiffs' favor led to Manzarek's subsequent insurance suit in "Who Insures Doors' Litigation?" - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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19. Rush Guitarist Fights at the Ritz
Highest Court Eleventh Circuit
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Family of Artist(s)
Music Manager(s)
Music Promoter(s)
Music Publisher(s)
Record Label(s)
Rush
Defendants Place of Public Accomodation
Security Guard(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description At a New Year's Eve party at a Ritz Carlton in Florida, Rush guitarist Aleksandar Zivojinovich (better known as Alex Lifeson) and his son, Justin, acted distruptively and were ejected by police officers at the hotel's request. Alex and Justin were admittedly acting inappropriately at the event, but hotel staff exaggerated the story to police officers in an attempt to have them removed. After being asked to leave, the situation escalated, ending in both Alex and Justin getting "tazed," and Alex receiving a broken nose. Both pleaded no contest to restisting arrest without violence, but then a flurry of lawsuits followed, brought by the officers against the Zivojinoviches and by the Zivojinoviches against the officers and the Ritz. Even Rush joined the suit, alleging Alex's injuries were detrimental to the band's business. The court disposed of all counts except one: Alex and Justin's negligence claims against the Ritz. Because hotel staff had lied to police officers to instigate the duo's removal, the court held that the hotel had breached a duty "not to lie," and that the staff's breach increased the risk of injury to the Zivojinoviches. Because hotel staff may have breached their duty, the hotel could be vicariously liable as well. Alex and Justin's actions against the officers for unconstitutionally excessive force were dismissed; the officers had acted appropriately, at least, perhaps, given the inaccurate reports they'd received from the hotel personnel. Rush's cause of action didn't even exist, and the band had no standing. According to the court's summary, all parties acted a bit out of line, so the outcome doesn't seem too unfair. - LSW


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20. Sly & the Family's Biz Sues Lawyers
Highest Court S.D. New York
Year Ended 2008
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Defendants Lawyer(s)
Other Sly and the Family Stone
Short Description In original law suit, Warner/Chappell sued producers of a Showtime documentary on Sly and the Family Stone for including 39 compositions without permission from copyright. Parties entered agreements to toll statute of limitations, but the law firm for Warner forgot and the statute tolled anyway. The corporation representing the interests of Sly and the Family, who'd expected to benefit financially from the outcome of the prior lawsuit, sued Warner's lawyers for malpractice. Among Defendants' replies, they tried dismissing on the ground there'd never been an attorney-client relationship between Plaintiffs and Defendants, who were, after all, Warner's lawyers, not Plaintiff's. The court did not agree, finding an assignment from Warner to Plaintiffs prior to the current action was sufficient to transfer claims arising from the prior representation. Since the assignment didn't release Defendants from liability, the suit may continue. - LSW


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