Thursday, January 10, 2019
Famed musical artist Prince passed away three years ago without a will or any form of estate planning. In Minnesota, Comerica Bank & Trust was named as administrator of his estate and recognized his six siblings and half-siblings as the heirs.
In 2017, a music engineer that collaborated with Prince in 2004-2008, George Boxill, allegedly conspired with others to sell unreleased music without the approval of the estate and Prince's company, Paisley Park, and litigation ensued. Boxill signed a confidentiality agreement before starting work that confirmed Prince and Paisley Park’s ownership of any recordings. In 2018, an arbitrator found that Boxill breached the Confidentiality Agreement and awarded Paisley and Comerica nearly $4 million in damages and attorneys’ fees.
After the arbitration, the representative amended the complaint to include two law firms that Comerica believed induced Boxill and the other defendants into breaches of the agreement and the intellectual property interests of the estate. One of the law firms, Sidebar Legal of Redding, California, defaulted on its subpoena and Comerica filed a motion to compel compliance in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
On January 3, 2019, Magistrate Judge Kendall Newman transferred the motion to the federal court in Minnesota. As the probate process drags on, Comerica has a duty to defend the Estate’s valuable interests in Prince’s released and unreleased music.
See Jeffrey S. Galvin, Purple Rain Shower in California — Prince’s Estate Chases Northern California Law Firm, Trust on Trial, January 7, 2019.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.) for bringing this article to my attention.