Outlaws – Case Update

I first wrote about this case in January, shortly after the complaint was filed. Just checked PACER for any updates, and, Wow!  This one is getting expensive quickly!

As I noticed, the attorney who filed the case wasn’t admitted to the Florida Bar, and the defendants’ attorneys pointed that out in the first motion to dismiss.  Yes, I said their first motion to dismiss. Three months in, and we already have two motions to dismiss with two orders!  (Local counsel has now appeared, and the original attorney has been admitted temporarily for this case.)

While I called the complaint a “doozy” in my original post, the judge gave it the kiss of death by calling it a shotgun pleading (fitting for an outlaw?).  This is a style of drafting a complaint where each claim incorporates all of the factual allegations preceding the claim.  Many complaints are drafted this way despite the fact that they are improper.  For example, if the second and third claims in a complaint both re-allege all of the preceding factual allegations, then the defendant technically doesn’t know which allegations belong to a specific claim – and that violates the federal rules of procedure.

The defendants’ attorneys picked up on this (and other issues in the original complaint) and filed a short and sweet motion to dismiss.  The judge agreed (on the same day!) and gave the plaintiff permission to file an amended complaint.

Guess what happened?  The plaintiff must have had a double-barreled shotgun because they did it again!  Not only that, but they also added on this nugget – which makes a First Amendment attorney such as myself cringe.  In the prayer for relief, the plaintiff has asked that the court to:

Order all Defendants to abstain from in any way discussing, commenting upon, or mentioning Plaintiffs in this action in public, in performances, or in any other public venue;

What!?  So, plaintiff wants, say, Henry Paul, to be legally prohibited from mentioning not only the case, but the mere existence of Outlawlessness Productions in public?

Plaintiff, meet the Streisand Effect.

Defendants’ First Motion to Dismiss (3/23/2010)

Order on First Motion to Dismiss (3/23/2010)

Amended Complaint (4/7/2010)

Defendants’ Second Motion to Dismiss (4/22/2010)

Order on Second Motion to Dismiss (4/23/2010)

Lawlessness Among the Outlaws

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 FemmesDead 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.