Song Royalty Beef for $1.4 Million

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A music company that was assigned royalties by the widow of Chic bass player Bernard Edwards claims it was stiffed by the late musician’s estate and wants $1.4 million in damages.
     Music Royalty Consulting sued Jess S. Morgan & Co. and Bernard Edwards Cos. LLC in Superior Court.
     Music Royalty claims that though Bernard Edwards’ widow, nonparty Bambi Edwards, sold it her royalty rights, the defendants rejected the agreement and refuse to pay royalties to anyone but the widow.
     “Defendant BEC, which upon information is the successor-in-interest to the Estate of Bernard Edwards, publishes Mr. Edwards’ musical compositions and administers the royalty income generated thereby,” the complaint states.
     “Defendant JSM is, upon information and belief, the Managing Member of BEC, as well as its business manager. JSM was also the administrator of BEC’s predecessor-in-interest, the Estate of Bernard Edwards. Upon information and belief, when it was serving as administrator of the estate, JSM appointed itself administrator of the royalties, thereby giving itself the opportunity to earn a perpetual – and substantial income for doing essentially no work. Upon information and belief, JSM’s income from royalty administration far exceeds its income from serving as the administrator of the estate, which is limited by law,” the complaint states.
     Music Royalty claims Bambi Edwards “irrevocably assigned [it] her right to receive royalty income” in June this year.
     “It is the custom and practice in the music industry for royalty rights to be assigned, and for administrators and/or publishers such as BEC and JSM to pay the assignees of royalty rights. All of the major royalty payors, including without limitation BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, Warner/Chappell, Sony, Universal, and EMI routinely pay such assignees,” the complaint says.
     But Music Royalty says defendants rejected the assignment and reserved the right to pay royalties only to Bambi Edwards.
     “Because JSM and BEC rejected the assignment and reserved the right to pay Ms. Edwards at any time, MRCI has been unable to consummate the purchase of Ms. Edwards’ royalties, and Ms. Edwards has been unable to receive payment therefor,” the complaint states.
     Bernard Edwards was a record producer and bass player in disco band Chic, known for hits such as “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” “Everybody Dance” and “Le Freak.” Edwards died of pneumonia in his Tokyo Hotel Room during a Chic reunion tour of Japan in April 1996.
     Music Royalty is represented by attorney Matthew Hess. It seeks punitive damages for intentional interference and negligent interference with contract, intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage, violations of the Business and Professional Code, breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith & fair dealing and breach of fiduciary duty.

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