BALTIMORE (CN) - The widow of Parliament Funkadelic's "Diaper Man" claims in court that Bridgeport Music owes her late husband's estate hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties, after a series of schemes that kept the musician "in a phantom perpetual debt."
Linda Shider, executrix of Garry Marshall Shider's estate, sued Bridgeport Music and Armen Boladian, in Federal Court.
She claims that Bridgeport Music is the alter ego for Boladian, "merely a facade for the personal operations of Boladian, which include fraud and numerous other illegalities committed against plaintiff."
Garry Marshall Shider, who wore a diaper on stage and was also known as Starchild, was a guitarist and songwriter for Parliament Funkadelic. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. He died in 2010 at 56.
"Shider penned an astonishing 375 songs during his career," his widow says. "Unfortunately, Shider, along with several of his well known co-authors including George Clinton and William 'Bootsy' Collins, became involved with defendants Bridgeport Music Inc., and Armen Boladian. Defendants profited enormously from their involvement with Shider and his co-authors; the same cannot be said for Shider and his coauthors.
"As a result of defendants' various fraudulent schemes; which included requiring Shider to sign blank agreements and loaning or advancing Shider his own money with interest rather than paying him royalties, Shider was desperately in need of money. Finally, at the end of Shider's life and during his final illness, he signed the Writer's Share Purchase Agreement that is the subject of this lawsuit. Defendants' action had left Shider destitute and desperately in need of money. Defendants' schemes kept Shider in a phantom perpetual debt, despite significant earnings from Shider's interest in his compositions, that actually far exceeded the amount of the fraudulent advances and loans he received from defendants."
From 1971-1983, "defendants obtained Shider's signature on documents which were at the time of signing incomplete, and wholly lacking as to any material terms," the complaint states.
After he signed, "defendant Bridgeport Music would draft and finalize the material terms of the Single Song Agreements without permitting Shider to ever see or review the final agreements," according to the complaint.
"In fact, Shider never saw the finalized agreements."
Shider claims that the agreements "provided that defendant Bridgeport was to collect and pay so called 'songwriter royalties' to Shider equal to 50 percent of the gross earnings of the Shider compositions," but that "from the 1970's onward defendant Bridgeport failed to pay Shider his share of songwriter royalties.
"Rather than paying Shider royalties when due as per industry standard procedure, defendants Bridgeport and Boladian would give Shider so called 'loans' or 'advances' against his royalties and charge interest on those loans or advances, thereby giving Shider the impression that he was perpetually in debt to defendants despite the fact that Shider's share of royalties on millions of records sold far outpaced all alleged loans/advances and interest."
The widow claims that Bridgeport and Boladian took advantage of Shider's addictions to drugs and alcohol to prevent him from getting his royalties and to get him to sign over the remaining ownership interest in his catalogue of songs.
"Shider was addicted to drugs and alcohol, throughout his entire career in the music business and would consume large amounts of cocaine and alcohol," the complaint states.
"In 2009, due in large part to defendants' failure to pay songwriter loyalties to Shider over the years, and defendants' scheme to deceive Shider into believing he was perpetually in debt to defendants, Shider and his family were in financial distress.
"Defendants exploited Shider's distressed financial state by offering to 'buy out' Shider's rights to receive the remaining 50 percent of his songwriter royalties for $290,000.00, or an average of $733.00 per Shider composition."
Shider agreed to the deal, but Bridgeport "made it clear to Shider that at this time he was still in debt to defendants in the amount of over $125,000.00 at 8 percent interest, despite defendants having failed for over two decades to pay any royalties due to Shider," according to the complaint.
When Shider died of brain cancer on June 16, 2010, he was "owed much more by defendants than the combined: (i) $122,027.08 defendants claimed he owed them for loans/advances, and (ii) the $290,000.00 which defendants paid for Shider's remaining rights," according to the complaint.
Linda Shider seeks declaratory judgment that her husband's mental state - influenced by drugs, alcohol and brain cancer - prevents the $290,000 purchase agreement from being enforceable, plus $3 million in damages for fraud.
The estate is represented by William Sherman, with Dinsmore Shohl, in Washington, D.C.
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