April 12, 2011

Claims Dismissed In Aretha Contract Suit

BLD Productions, LLC v. Viacom, Inc., NYLJ 1202489492977, at *1 (SDNY, Decided March 31, 2011) (Gardephe, J.)

Summary: Plaintiff and defendant Viacom's affiliate negotiated a March 8, 2001, agreement for a benefit concert by Aretha Franklin. On April 10, 2001, Franklin granted plaintiff her rights to video and audio recordings of the concert. Despite the agreement's March 8, 2001, date and the concert's April performance, plaintiff claimed that the agreement was not finalized until 2006. Plaintiff alleged breaches of oral and written contract, and the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, contending that Viacom and its affiliate failed to engage a distributor to make, market and distribute recordings of the concert, their failure to account for sales and revenues and to pay royalties to plaintiff.

Judge Gardephe dismissed the case against Viacom because it was not a party to the agreements, and plaintiff did not plead sufficient facts to pierce the corporate veil. Judge Gardephe also dismissed claims against Viacom's affiliate to the extent that plaintiff's breach of written contract claim were based on the affiliate's failure to provide master recordings to plaintiff. Plaintiff's claim that the agreement required the affiliate to secure a distributor was deemed time-barred by the New York statute of limitations. Judge Gardephe alsor dismissed plaintiff's claim for breach of an oral contract.