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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
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The Doors’ Insurance Suit Revived By Ninth Circuit

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - In a case stemming from a legal spat between the surviving members of the 1960s rock band The Doors, the 9th Circuit allowed former keyboardist Ray Manzarek to proceed with his lawsuit over an insurance policy covering "advertising injury."

Responsible for hits such as "Light My Fire" and "Break on Through (to the Other Side), the band split up after the mysterious death of lead singer Jim Morrison, 27, whose body was found in the bathtub of his apartment in 1971.

Guitarist Robby Krieger and Manzarek later toured as "The Doors of the 21st Century." Drummer John Densmore and Morrison's parents filed separate lawsuits accusing Manzarek and Doors Touring Inc. of improperly using The Doors' logo to sell merchandise at their concerts and on The Doors' official Web site.

Densmore also claimed Manzarek and his band damaged the drummer's reputation by "causing people to believe that (Densmore) was not, and is not, an integral and respected part of The Doors band, or is one member who easily can be replaced by another drummer."

The lawsuits cost Manzarek and Doors Touring more than $3 million in legal fees.

Manzarek had taken out a commercial liability insurance policy from 2002 to 2003 with St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co., which included protection against "advertising injury," or losses from things such as slander, libel and privacy violations.

The keyboardist claimed the insurer failed to provide coverage for Densmore's 2003 lawsuit. A district court dismissed his breach-of-contract claim on the basis that the policy excluded coverage for advertising injury resulting from advertising products or events in the "entertainment business."

The federal appeals court reversed, ruling that Manzarek's claim raised a potential for coverage because the underlying suits do not say whether the products defendants sold are within the entertainment industry.

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