Officials at Chris Cornell and Tom Petty’s estates have joined a class action lawsuit filed against Universal Music Group (UMG) over a 2008 fire that destroyed up to 500,000 master recordings.
The lawsuit has been filed by Soundgarden, Tom Whalley on behalf of the Afeni Shakur Trust that oversees Tupac Shakur’s estate, and Petty’s ex-wife Jane, among others.
The plaintiffs are seeking to recover half of any settlement proceeds and insurance payments received by UMG and half of any remaining loss of value not compensated by such settlement proceeds and insurance payments.
According to the lawsuit, none of UMG’s litigation and insurance claims following the fire were shared with the artists, whose recordings were damaged or destroyed.
“UMG concealed its massive recovery from Plaintiffs, apparently hoping it could keep it all to itself by burying the truth in sealed court filings and a confidential settlement agreement,” the complaint, obtained by Billboard reads. “Most importantly, UMG did not share any of its recovery with Plaintiffs, the artists whose life works were destroyed in the Fire – even though, by the terms of their recording contracts, Plaintiffs are entitled to 50% of those proceeds and payments.”
Universal Music Group bosses have declined to comment on the litigation but they previously contended the damage was not as severe as had been reported.
The blaze ripped through one of the UMG’s warehouses, used for the storage of music and film reels dating back to the 1940s, with recordings by artists such as Eminem, John Coltrane, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Louis Armstrong, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Nirvana, No Doubt, Snoop Dogg, Tom Petty, Hole, R.E.M., and The Roots among those affected.
The news of the huge loss was made public following an investigative report published in The New York Times earlier this month (Jun19).