Washington State Judge Sides with Soundgarden in Royalties Case
A Washington state federal judge has ruled that despite Chris Cornell's widow's claims, Soundgarden are not withholding royalties.
Judge Michelle Peterson has also recommended that two of Vicky Cornell's claims against the band be thrown out due to lack of evidence.
Cornell sued remaining Soundgarden members Kim Thayil, Ben Shepherd and Matt Cameron in December of 2019 over allegations that they were “withholding hundreds of thousand of dollars in royalties.” She also accused that the band's manager, Rit Venerus, wasn't looking out for her best interests since taking over Chris' estate when he died in 2017.
Billboard reports Judge Peterson found that Venerus is "not (Cornell's) advisor," and there is insufficient evidence to state that the band withheld money from Vicky Cornell or that they used the funds to pay for any legal fees involved the case.
When Chris Cornell passed in 2017, the 52-year old left his property -- including his intellectual and personal property rights -- to his wife Vicky for the benefit of their two minor children.
On Dec. 9, 2019, two and half years after her husband's death, Vicky Cornell filed a lawsuit against the remaining members of the band and their business manager asking a judge to declare her the rightful owner of her husband’s unreleased sound recordings and of his name and likeness.
She also demanded the court order the band to open its finances to her and to provide her with an inventory of all of Chris Cornell's personal property that was stored in warehouse space owned by Pearl Jam.
Soundgarden's legal team successfully argued that the disputed funds are owned by the band’s partnership, and that under Washington law that partnership continues to legally own the funds until there is a distribution by a partner vote.
Vicky Cornell’s attorney Marty Singer said in a statement released in response to the judge's recommendation that his client plans to “vehemently object” to it.
The case will now be reviewed by the honorable Robert S. Lasnik, who will have the final say.