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The suit charges Warner with "sacrificing the interests of the partnership and its partners for defendants' own selfish financial interests, attempting to induce one of their partners to betray the interests of his other partners and secretly attempting to seize the partnership opportunities for their own benefit."

MAVERICK FILES SUIT AGAINST WMG

Action Alleges Company Failed to Provide Accurate Accounting of Revenues
As expected, Maverick Records filed a lawsuit in L.A. Superior Court yesterday against the Warner Music Group, the latest move in an ongoing dispute about the value of the 60% of the label owned by partners Madonna, Guy Oseary and Ronnie Dashev.

WMG has an option to buy that share when its agreement with Maverick runs out on Dec. 31.

Maverick claims that WMG "repeatedly and willfully" breached its 1992 joint-venture pact, which was amended in 1999, alleging the label had to spend $30 million on promotion, publicity, new media, sales and marketing expenses that WMG was required to pay under the pact.

The suit charges Warner with "sacrificing the interests of the partnership and its partners for defendants' own selfish financial interests, attempting to induce one of their partners to betray the interests of his other partners and secretly attempting to seize the partnership opportunities for their own benefit."

It also alleges that WMG provided improper and inaccurate accountings of revenues, and that revenues derived from the sale of Maverick's properties within the Time-Warner family were not computed properly.

Among the other charges:

*Maverick was forced to shut down its Latin-music division and lay off its in-house promotion staff.

*WMG refused to allow the label to sign an artist who later pacted and was successful with Atlantic.

*WMG coerced them into settling a lawsuit with label artist Michele Branch to keep her manager happy, because the manager represents other Warner Music artists.

*$250,000 purportedly used for promotion of a single from Maverick's Rugrats soundtrack was spent by Warner Bros. "in a dubious and suspicious manner."

*WMG chairman/CEO Roger Ames "engaged in a pattern of false promises andmisrepresentations of fact" to effect changes in the joint venture, and that WMG sought to convince Oseary to back off pressing the issues raised in the suit with the promise of a new and separate contract.

Maverick's suit seeks actual, compensatory and punitive damages to be determined; an accounting; and a declaration that the label has the right to terminate the venture.

Noted celebrity attorney Bert Fields, who is representing the company in its action, estimated the total at more than $200 million.

"They feel that they have not been accounted to properly,'' Fields said. "They want fair accounting and they want damages for their losses.''

And while WMG was quick to rush out a statement that this dispute had nothing to do with its relationship with Madonna (see Rumor Mill), Fields wasn't so sure.

"It's a very strange way to make your most important artist happy," he told the N.Y. Daily News.

The suit came a day after Warner filed a sealed lawsuit in Delaware, asking the court to affirm that Maverick's claims are baseless.

Maverick asserts in the lawsuit that the label has generated more than $900 million in sales and profits of more than $100 million for Warner Music Group since the label was formed in 1992.

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