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Judge Recommends Dismissal For Two Claims Brought Against Soundgarden By Vicky Cornell


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The ongoing legal dispute between the widow of late Soundgarden, etc. frontman Chris Cornell and the surviving members of Soundgarden has gone before a judge again. As of last week, U.S. District Judge Michelle Peterson has filed her recommendation that two of Vicky‘s six claims against the band be dismissed.

The claims recommended for dismissal include Vicky‘s assertion that the band had been withholding the payment of “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to her in royalties via the rights of her late husband’s shares in the band, which she and her children obtained ownership of upon his passing.

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Vicky had previously alleged that the band had been withholding the payment of those royalties in a bid to strongarm her to hand over the recordings the band allege Chris had been working on for a Soundgarden album prior to his passing.

Also recommended for dismissal was Vicky‘s claim that the band’s business manager Rit Venerus breached his fiduciary duty to look after her best interests. Billboard.com report that Peterson found no evidence to support those claims with her report to be presented to the presiding judge, Robert S. Lasnik.

Vicky‘s attorney Marty Singer has indicated that his client will be rejecting the judge’s recommendations, stating:

“The magistrate’s recommendation was based solely on her subjective and un-adopted opinion that additional facts must be added to our client’s complaint, and we intend to amend our client’s complaint to include those facts. Most importantly, the magistrate’s recommendation has zero impact on the significant claims against Soundgarden and its band members, who have sought to trample on Chris Cornell’s rights by unlawfully asserting ownership over his vocal recordings and by depriving his wife and children of millions of dollars that the band members want to keep for themselves.”

Vicky first filed suit against the band back in December of 2019, seeking to be declared the owner of the aforementioned unreleased recordings from Chris, while also seeking access to the band’s financial records to establish any potential damages. She also sought to have an inventory of Cornell‘s personal property housed at Pearl Jam‘s rehearsal space.

The band would go on to countersue her in May of 2020, alleging ‘fraudulent inducement’ in regards to their performance at the January 2019 Chris Cornell tribute show, ‘I Am The Highway: A Tribute to Chris Cornell‘. The group claimed to have performed at that event for free with the stipulation of a portion of the revenue generated from it being earmarked for charity. At the time of the suit, they alleged that no record of those funds being donated had been provided.

That counterclaim was later dropped in July of 2020. This past February saw Vicky launch another suit against the band, this time after her demands for the band to buyout Chris‘ interest Soundgarden in late 2020 went sour. According to Vicky, the group responded to her buyout demand with a $300,000 offer. Her attorney claimed that the offer was “ludicrously low”.

This led to several buyout offers of the Soundgarden‘s members collective interests in the group being put forth by Vicky and the Cornell Estate. One of those offers was said to have been for as much as $21 million. The band rejected both those offers as well as another said to have been put forward by a third party investor for $16 million to buy the rights to the band’s master recordings.

Soundgarden would go on to issue a statement claiming that their offer was “grossly mischaracterized”.

Chief at the heart of the legal dispute though remains the rights to several previously unreleased songs, which Vicky disputes were property of her husband. The band’s camp allege they were intended for a Soundgarden album and should be treated as such partnership wise.

Clouding the matter however is the absence of a written partnership in the band, with the arrangement thus falling under Washington general partnership law. The songs in dispute and the writing credits provided for them by the band’s camp include:

Road Less Traveled” (Chris Cornell/Matt Cameron)
Orphans” (Chris Cornell/Matt Cameron)
At Ophians Door” (Chris Cornell/Matt Cameron)
Cancer” (Chris Cornell)
Ahead Of The Dog” (Chris Cornell/Kim Thayil)
Merrmas” (Chris Cornell/Ben Shepherd)
Stone Age Mind” (Chris Cornell)

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