Judge Orders Universal Music To Hand Over Critical 2008 Fire Evidence

Judge Orders Universal Music To Hand Over Critical 2008 Fire Evidence

Photo the fire at Universal Music

A federal judge in California has Universal Music Group (UMG) to provide discovery evidence requested it relating to the class action lawsuit filed by artists in response to the fire at Universal Studios backlot.

In June this year,  Soundgarden, Tom Whalley (who is the trustee the Afeni Shakur Trust), Jane Petty and Steve Earle sued UMG because they believe that their master recordings were destroyed in the infamous fire back in 2008. Among other things, the artists sued the company for breach contract, negligence, reckless conduct and misrepresentation by omission.

The artists have been seeking half any money UMG receives as proceeds from the settlement for the fire as well as half all remaining loss not compensated by the settlement. Toward this end, lawyers representing Soundgarten have been seeking evidence in the discovery process from UMG, which they believe will support their case.

Recently, UMG asked U.S. District Court Judge John Kronstadt if they could delay delivering the discovery evidence requested. They argued that they should not have to provide evidence until the judge ruled whether the court had jurisdiction over the matter, as this could have led to the case’s dismissal.

But the judge denied UMG’s request, indicating that “some the requested discovery goes to the jurisdictional issue.”

The judge also ruled that providing the evidence requested would not place an undue burden on UMG.

Unsurprisingly, Soundgarden’s attorneys were pleased with the judge’s decision. Ed McPherson, who is one these attorneys, said, “A]fter 11 years, UMG is finally being compelled to tell its artists which masters were destroyed and which masters it told its insurance company were destroyed.”

Also not surprisingly, UMG was not so pleased with today’s outcome. A UMG spokesperson called the demand for evidence “desperate and meritless” while continuing to insist that the rule law was on their side and that they would ultimately prevail in the case.