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"Shockingly, even as this final judgment is handed down, the Universal Music Group has not taken a single step to deal with the fraudulent behavior that underlines this scandal."
——Steve Gottlieb, TVT
TVT SETTLES FOR $53 MILLION IN SUIT VS. IDJ AND COHEN
Award Is Far Less Than Original $132 Million Judgment, While Cohen’s Liability Drops from $56 Million to $3 Million; UMG Will Appeal
A New York District Court has ordered Island Def Jam and Lyor Cohen to pay $53 million to TVT, claiming the UMG label and exec were guilty of fraud, wrongful interference with contract and copyright infringement. The decision upheld the charge Cohen and IDJ interfered with the indie’s right to release an album by Ja Rule’s early band Cash Money Click and producer Irv Gotti.

The full $24 million in compensatory damages awarded by the jury has been upheld, along with $29 million in total punitive damages, $3 million of which are assessed in personal liability against label head Cohen. The amount represents a substantial reduction, from a total of $132 million for the label, and $56 million against Cohen personally (see hitsdailydouble.com, 5/6). Def Jam and Cohen must now post bond for the amount within 10 days, which will earn 9% interest. A UMG spokesman said the company would appeal the decision and look for a spring 2004 trial.

"One would hope this would be enough to get someone’s attention," said TVT President Steve Gottlieb. "Shockingly, even as this final judgment is handed down, the Universal Music Group has not taken a single step to deal with the fraudulent behavior that underlines this scandal."

UMG insisted: "We are pleased with the decision of the trial judge to reduce the verdict against Lyor Cohen and Island Def Jam by $80 million. While the reductions are substantial, we still intend to appeal the remainder of the verdict and continue to be confident that it will be overturned on appeal as it is not supported by the law or the facts."

The dispute revolves around TVT’s claim that IDJ interfered with a contract the label had with Murder Inc.’s Gotti and Ja Rule to produce an album by his original group, which was signed to Gottlieb’s label in 1994, where Gotti was an A&R exec at the time. After initially agreeing to let TVT release the album, IDJ pushed back the date from its planned November 2002 release to complete a new record from Ja Rule, then used several of the tracks intended for the album on a DVD and compilation disc (see hitsdailydouble.com, 3/24).

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