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Rob Zombie – withdrawn from Rick James – and puffery on tour with Marilyn Manson

October 16, 2012

This past week Rob Zombie withdrew (without prejudice) from the Rick James v. UMG litigation. So now the Rick James litigation is no longer literally Zombie Rick James litigation but only figuratively. There is no apparent connection to the reports of this week’s disagreements with Marilyn Manson, but the timing is interestingly coincidental.

RICK JAMES, by and through The James Ambrose Johnson, Jr., 1999 Trust, his successor in interest, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
UMG RECORDINGS, INC., Defendant.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146759
No. C 11-1613 SI; No. C 11-2431 SI,
Related Case: No. C 11-5321 SI

Decided – October 11, 2012

This case was initially filed in April 2011 by Rick James through The James Ambrose Johnson, Jr., 1999 Trust. By April 2012, four additional cases were filed and then consolidated before this Court. Plaintiffs have never sought to amend their initial complaint until this motion.

The proposed Consolidated Amended Complaint (“CAC”) would make the following changes: (1) allow three plaintiffs, Rob Zombie, White Zombie, and Otis Robert Harris, to withdraw from the action;

UMGR opposes the motion for leave to file a consolidated amended complaint because the three plaintiffs, Rob Zombie, White Zombie, and Otis Robert Harris, would withdraw from the action without prejudice. Instead, it asks the Court to dismiss them with prejudice so that they are barred from relitigating this action.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a), if a defendant has filed an answer, an action may be dismissed at the plaintiff’s request only by court order and on terms that the court considers proper. Rule 41(a)(2). “A district court should grant a motion for voluntary dismissal under Rule 41(a)(2) unless a defendant can show that it will suffer some plain legal prejudice as a result.” Smith v. Lenches, 263 F.3d 972, 975 (9th Cir. 2001) (emphasis added). Legal prejudice “means ‘prejudice to some legal interest, some legal claim, some legal argument.'” Id., at 976 (quoting Westlands Water Dist. v. United States, 100 F.3d 94, 97 (9th Cir. 1996)). The decision to dismiss a plaintiff under Rule 41(a)(2) [*16] is a matter of the district court’s sound discretion. Stevedoring Services of Am. v. Armilla Int’l B.V., 889 F.2d 919, 921 (9th Cir. 1989).

Here, UMGR asserts that it will suffer prejudice because it has already expended considerable effort in producing discovery, reviewing documents, and deposing the three plaintiffs. However, UMGR has failed to demonstrate how the dismissal of these plaintiffs will unfairly harm its legal claims. Because UMGR cannot show that it will suffer “plain legal prejudice,” the Court hereby DISMISSES WITHOUT PREJUDICE plaintiffs Rob Zombie, White Zombie, and Otis Robert Harris.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons and for good cause shown, the Court hereby GRANTS plaintiffs’ motion for leave to file a consolidated class action complaint and DISMISSES WITHOUT PREJUDICE plaintiffs Rob Zombie, White Zombie, and Otis Robert Harris. (Docket No. 110).

So as I said above, this is kind of sad because for a while this was literally Zombie Rick James litigation and now that the Zombies are dismissed as plaintiffs, it is only figuratively zombie Rick James litigation (James died in 2004). And meanwhile in other Rob Zombie news, he is verbally clashing with Marilyn Manson during their “Twins of Evil” tour – are they really getting ready to rumble or is this all just puffed up press for the tour? I guess who cares… And similarly, will Rob Zombie sue again or use the claim as a bargaining chip to settle his claim with UMG another way? He’s on tour now, so maybe it’s all just entertainment industry negotiating tactics, one more claim to wrap into another contract? Another yeah yeah who cares?

Maybe except this particular Rick James litigation may have significant implications for music distribution in the digital age. Recall the issue is whether digital music is selling or licensing with major implications for how much royalties the artists are owed. Recall also ZombieLaw mentioned another opinion in this same Zombie Rick James class action case from last November.

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