Jerry Garcia Family at War Over Grateful Dead Tapes

LOS ANGELES (CN) — A Hollywood storage vault wants no part of a fight between Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia’s widow and his children, all of whom claim ownership of years of master tapes worth millions of dollars, and has asked a judge to excuse it from the battle.

Jerry Garcia, a co-founder of the legendary rock band and one of the most influential rock guitarists in history, died in 1995. He was survived by his widow, defendant Deborah Koons Garcia, and other family members.

They formed the Jerry Garcia Estate, a California LLC, to manage and market his intellectual property. It consisted of his heirs, Annabelle Garcia-McLean, Clifford Garcia, Heather Garcia Katz, Sunshine May Walker Kesey, Theresa Adams Garcia, the Keelin Garcia Testamentary Trust, and defendant Koons Garcia.

The Jerry Garcia Estate LLC was dissolved under judicial supervision in September 2008. Terms of the dissolution included that the tapes were to be digitized and then “distributed to the heirs who were members of the Jerry Garcia Estate LLC,” plaintiff Hollywood Vaults says in its Nov. 17 complaint in Superior Court.

Some, but not all, members of the Jerry Garcia Estate LLC then formed the other defendant in this case, the Jerry Garcia Family LLC.

Koons Garcia is not a member of that LLC.

All of them, however, claim rights to the master tapes.

Plaintiff Hollywood Vaults is a climate-controlled storage facility in Hollywood. It says it has been a family run business since 1985 and has never been involved in a lawsuit, and it wants nothing to do with this fight. It wants the court to decide who gets the tapes.

Hollywood Vaults says it entered a storage agreement with the Jerry Garcia Estate LLC in 2005. The problem is that by then relations between the widow Koons Garcia and the other family members were hardly peaceful and loving, such as the Grateful Dead might have liked.

The Jerry Garcia Family (JGF LLC) has repeatedly demanded access to the tapes in the vault, “and has threatened litigation against Hollywood Vaults.” But if Hollywood Vaults were to do this, Koons Garcia has assured it, “it would subject Hollywood Vaults to potential liability to Koons Garcia.”

Hollywood Vaults says it is “an innocent bystander in this dispute.” It takes no position of who has right to the master tapes, and wants only “to discharge any potential obligation with respect to this property.”

It seeks declaratory judgment in its complaint in interpleader, an order telling it to whom to deliver the tapes, and discharge of all liability once it’s done that.

It also wants attorney fees and costs of suit.

It is represented by Jeffrey Abrams with Harder Mirell & Abrams in Beverly Hills.

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