Love to Get Her Day in Court Against Universal

By | June 1, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Rocker Courtney Love will get her day in court next month after a Los Angeles judge on Thursday set a June trial for her countersuit against Universal Music, the world’s largest music company, alleging breach of contract and other claims.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Fumiko Wasserman on Thursday ordered lawyers for Love and Geffen Records, the Universal Music label named in the suit, to first meet on June 10 with a court-assigned mediator, said Barry Cappello, Love’s lawyer, following a half-hour status conference on Thursday.

“These parties have not been able to agree that black is black and white and white. We don’t see eye to eye on the basics, so I don’t see them settling,” Cappello said.

In the event there is no settlement, Wasserman also told both sides to be prepared for a trial on June 11.

The latest legal twist comes just days after Hole, the Love-led rock group that shot to fame in the mid-1990s, called it quits. The group’s last album for Geffen was 1998’s “Celebrity Skin”, which sold about 1.3 million copies in the United States.

Geffen’s lawyer, Russell Frackman, declined to comment, but a spokesman for Universal Music said it has a stronger lawsuit pending against Love, especially after the Los Angeles court dismissed elements of her counterclaim this week.

“We find it amazing that even in defeat Courtney Love attempts to claim victory,” the spokesman said. “All that is left is a ‘garden variety’ contractual dispute, which pales in comparison to Universal’s damages claim for Hole’s failure to deliver the albums promised under their contract.”

In December 1999, Love, the widow of Nirvana’s late bandleader Kurt Cobain, decided to stop recording for Geffen. Last year, Geffen/Universal Music sued Love, seeking millions of dollars in damages for five undelivered albums. Love countersued last year. Universal Music is a unit of Vivendi Universal.

ARTISTS WANT NEW CALIFORNIA LEGISLATION

The status conference on Thursday came one day after the Los Angeles court threw out part of Love’s lawsuit against the record label.

Specifically, Judge Wasserman discarded Love’s argument that a provision in state labor law allowing record companies to sue recording artists for damages was invalid and unconstitutional.

Love and Eagles frontman Don Henley are heading a group of stars who have been lobbying for new California legislation that would free artists from what they say is “indentured servitude” to record companies.

The artists’ group, the Recording Artists Coalition, wants to repeal an amendment won by the music industry in 1987 that allows record labels to keep performers tied to contracts longer than talent in other industries such as film and TV.

While the judge on Wednesday ruled against Love on the labor code issue, she ruled Love could press ahead with her breach of contract claims as well as charges of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and faulty accounting.

“When we first filed this case, many prognosticators in the music industry said Courtney’s suit was frivolous and shrugged it off,” said Cappello.”I doubt they feel the same way now. The judge reviewed all of Vivendi Universal’s arguments and let the key claims stand. It tried everything it could to get this case thrown out, but it failed. We’re ready for trial.”

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