Plaintiffs, all former members of 1970s-era musical group the Bay City Rollers, brought this action alleging that they were owed tens of millions of dollars in unpaid royalties from their record company, Defendant Arista Records, LLC ("Arista"). Plaintiffs claim these royalties pursuant to a 1981 agreement; accordingly, Arista argues that even if it owes Plaintiffs accrued royalties from the time period prior to 2001, the statute of limitations bars Plaintiffs' claim. Plaintiffs counter that Arista acknowledged its debt in a writing, thereby satisfying Section 17-101 of New York's General Obligations Law, which restarts the statute of limitations to revive the debt.
Section 17-101 of New York's General Obligations Law ("Section 17-101") codifies and restricts the common-law rule that an acknowledgement of a debt is sufficient to refresh the obligation, thereby restarting the running of the statute of limitations. To restart the running of the statute of limitations under Section 17-101, an acknowledgment or promise must be in writing, be signed by the debtor party, recognize an existing debt and contain nothing inconsistent with an intention on the part of the debtor to pay it.
Plaintiffs and Arista have each moved for partial summary judgment on Arista's affirmative defense that the statute of limitations bars Plaintiffs' claim. The Court granted Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment, and denied Defendant's motion for partial summary judgment.