Many people think of Florida as a tropical paradise with palm trees, convertibles, and theme parks lining every street. While that may be true for some parts, Florida also has a rich deep-fried-and-countrified history filled with the cliches most people associate with Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina. (TruckNutz? You can thank Florida.)
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and 38 Special? Jacksonville, Florida. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers? Gainesville, Florida. Outlaws? Tampa, Florida. (Source) (It’s the last band, Outlaws, that brings us to the current lawsuit)
Band lawsuits are nothing new. They are typically filled with allegations of broken contracts, trademark and copyright infringement, and perhaps most importantly, hurt feelings. Band agreements are the prenup agreements for polygamous relationships that must survive the hardships of touring, recording, and basic human maturation and evolution. No band is immune. Some take it out on each other physically (hello, Gallagher Brothers), and some spend their hard-earned royalties to hire attorneys. The Beach Boys, Violent Femmes, Dead Kennedys (I know, not very Dead Kennedy-y of them), Wilco – all have had some dispute over the band’s intellectual property.
Notwithstanding the obvious irony, the corporate machine behind the Outlaws is now seeking some legal intervention over disputes with former members.
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, on January 6, 2010.
The first thing to note is that the complaint was signed and filed by an Illinois attorney who is apparently not admitted to the Florida Bar. Also, there is no local counsel designated, so I would expect an application for a special appearance to be filed soon, or else the complaint might be kicked out.
Also, and this is even worse – if you’re a badass Southern Rock band, make sure your attorney spells “Lynyrd Skynyrd” correctly. It’s spelled “Lynard Skynard” in the complaint, and that’s pretty much sacrilege around these parts.
Notwithstanding the Skynyrd faux pas, the complaint is a doozy. It even has a table of contents. There are many allegations (trademark infringement, conversion, cybersquatting, the works…), and the prayer for relief is especially brutal – calling for the destruction of CD’s. I encourage you to read it yourself and observe a band’s internal self-destruction.
One thing to remember – no matter who the public thinks is the “soul” or “leader” of a band, it’s generally the paperwork that ultimately matters. (See page 44.)
Complaint and Exhibits HERE.