George Clinton Sues Former Law Firm; More Confusion Over His Legal Wranglings

from the hmm dept

We’ve talked a few times about the rights associated with some George Clinton songs, and allegations of forged signatures to transfer the copyrights. However, we’ve also noted that Clinton’s explanations have often been less than clear as to what he’s actually alleging happened. The lack of a simple clear explanation has really limited the ability to determine what happened and if it was really illegal. The latest, however, is that he’s filed a lawsuit against his former law firm and it finally lays out some of the specific allegations, though still leaves some questions unanswered.

Specifically, in this lawsuit Clinton claims that his former manager, Nene Montes forged signatures to claim ownership of the copyright on certain Funkadelic master recordings, and back in 2005, he sued Montes, and won. Part of that lawsuit was evidence that Clinton’s signatures were forged on some early 80s copyright transfer agreements, using some sort of “cut and paste” method. That’s part one. Part II (which still isn’t fully fleshed out) was some sort of plan to file a RICO suit against… someone… for the misappropriation of Clinton’s rights. Then, Clinton tells of an attempt to file a lawsuit against Universal Music, which appears to have been mucked up by his law firm (whom he’s suing now). He lists out a bunch of things he thinks the law firm did wrong, including botching certain filings to extend the statute of limitations, and not really caring about the forensic evidence.

So he’s suing the law firm for “negligent misrepresentation,” “legal malpractice” and “fraudulent inducement.” On the whole, while this new lawsuit provides some additional details, it’s still pretty hazy. It’s not clear if the law firm really did anything that would be “negligent” or “malpractice.” The lawsuit may not have gone smoothly, but such things happen. It’s not necessarily malpractice. Honestly, I’m a bit surprised at how weak the claims appear and how far out there some of the allegations are. As THREsq summarizes:

First, Clinton alleges he’s been ripped off. Next, those who have ripped him off allegedly pursue their own legal agenda. For example, Lewis is said to have convinced Clinton “to pursue other lawsuits to generate the funds necessary to maintain a civil RICO action.”

Finally, having been ripped off and having become victim to legal actions without his full support, Clinton sues for redress.

In sum, Clinton either has an insatiable appetite for suing or he’s the victim of never-ending legal fraud — and frankly, we have no idea which assessment is correct.”

I just don’t see a real malpractice here. They may not have performed well, but that’s not necessarily malpractice.

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Comments on “George Clinton Sues Former Law Firm; More Confusion Over His Legal Wranglings”

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Funkprobosci (user link) says:

I’m posting in hopes you all will understand the depth and significance of this situation and then help spread the word. George Clinton has a blog,, that details the strife faced by many musicians and songwriters. Please visit and spread the word. Below is our response to a pervious Hollywood Reporter article that I think you’ll find interesting. Thanks for being on the One.
The Response:

Thanks for helping bring awareness to George’s plight. I would suggest fact checking some of your statements though. The ‘litigation trail’ you speak of should be accredited to Armen Boladian of Bridgeport Music. George did not initiate or participate in those cases. And in a number of instances actually agreed to testify on behalf of the artist being sued for sampling. It was George’s hope to shed light on Bridgeport’s highly questionable tactics. Whenever he was set to take the stand Bridgeport would drop the case in order to dodge the truth.

Your facts on Hendricks & Lewis’ involvement are a bit skewed as well. What you should look into is their handling of the case against Universal. George hired them to pursue a RICO charge. H & L had success in a similar case with the Jimi Hendrix family. Going into the Universal case it had already been established in court that a host of documents purported to deliver certain individuals exclusive rights to George’s music were fraudulent (ie Cut & Paste). Also George had just been awarded four Funkadelic masters back (Hardcore Jollies, One Nation Under A Groove, Uncle Jam Wants You, The Electric Spanking of War Babies). The court stated as reasoning for delay in George being recognized as owner: This case is about scandalous managers, corrupt attorneys, and uninformed judges. Around this time (2005) it was being realized there was fraud committed at the Copyright Office. Hendricks & Lewis was aware of all this info and much, much more that George had personally communicated to them.

In February 2007, H & L filed a lawsuit on behalf of George against Universal Music Group for an accounting and declaration of right to certain masters originally released by Casablanca Records for Parliament and Parlet. In spite of consistent prior testimony by George that he did not sign the purported Oct 17, 1980 Settlement Agreement & Oct 23, 1980 Artist Agreement with Casablanca , as well as a 2005 forensic document expert opinion that the Oct 17 agreement was suspected to be another Cut & Paste document, H & L filed (without prior consultation with George) the complaint as a ‘breach of contract’ case – attaching these documents as ‘true and correct copies’ that George signed for Parlet.

It should also be noted here that George had a Key Man Clause in his Casablanca contract, as did Kiss and others, that when Neil Bogart left the company the artist reclaimed all rights to their music. Neil did leave. So in fact Universal, the final beneficiary of the Casablanca buyout, has no claim to anything.

During discovery in February 2008, UMG produced a document dated Dec 23, 1980 to rely upon their claim of ownership to the Parlet masters. This document was prepared by Michael Rosenfeld (see Jimi Hendrix case) for NeNe Montes (George’s former manager and another key schemer in this). In Apr 2008 George’s deposition was taken and he not only discovers the serious error that H & L made in filing the action, but also learns of the Dec 23, 1980 document. He had never seen it before until UMG produced it. That document was relied upon by UMG to establish its ownership of the Parlet masters. It also seemed to infer that Montes was paid $250,000 by Casablanca upon receipt of the document.

Hendricks & Lewis never bothered to produce the 2005 expert report, have any documents produced by UMG submitted to a forensics expert, nor designate any such expert for trial.

In May 2008 George developed serious concerns about H & L for obvious reasons. He brought in another attorney as an independent investigator regarding the UMG document. On July 14, 2008 a forensic document expert retained by that attorney for George executed a declaration concluding the Dec 23, 1980 document was a cut and paste. The declaration was filed on July 28, 2008 in support of George’s Motion to Amend the Final Pretrial Order.

The trial court denied that motion, but during trial George still attempted to introduce expert testimony that the document relied upon by UMG was fraudulent. It was denied again on the basis that the expert should have been timely designated and then presented as part of George’s case in chief. The court ultimately found the documents introduced by UMG were valid and granted judgement to UMG.

Hendricks & Lewis walked away from the case while it was pending. Essentially leaving George on his own. They reason this action was due to a complete breakdown of attorney/client trust not for unpaid fees. It would seem they dug their own hole by failing to operate as competent counsel which facilitated such a breakdown. H & L had the cards stacked in their favor to be successful in the UMG case. Instead of cashing in with a settlement or victory for George against UMG they curiously handled the case miserably leaving the door wide open for Universal’s win.

George has agreed to pay H & L. There is no doubt in that. Though the initial figure of $4 million sought by H & L was contested and reduced to it’s present $1.6 million. It should also be noted that George did pay H & L upwards of $1 million already. He kept his receipts if you’d like to see them. With in insatiable appetite H & L has placed levies and garnishments on every revenue stream they can find of George’s, including the Black Eyed Peas case. They also filed a temporary restraining order blocking George from making any moves with his assets. It seems they will make an effort to attain the masters George won back in 2005 as well. George was in court as recently as Feb 14, 2011 to discuss this matter with a judge who seemed to be hip to H & L’s overreaching aims. Interestingly others, including the Jimi Hendrix Family and Courtney Love have accused Hendricks & Lewis of excess legal fees. This seems to be a trend with them.

Hopefully that clears some things up. There is much more to the story than I’ve relayed here, but this will put you on the right track. I suggest checking out George’s blog at Funkprobosci. In the video section you’ll find more to gnaw on and dance to.


funky taurus (user link) says:

lawyers and fraud

…some lawyers, and even doctors! have social status envy for successfull people.
when the lawyer wanted more in live eg.: freedom and he could not make it and still sits in the positions he wants to get out of… and than seeing free people

the lawyers or doctors give the “big revenche” in form that they show their power against the person they envy.

hell is legal fraud.
normal people cannot know because they do not experience it.

funky taurus (user link) says:

lawyers and fraud

…some lawyers, and even doctors! have social status envy for successfull people.
when the lawyer wanted more in life eg.: freedom and he could not make it and still sits in the positions he wants to get out of… and than seeing free people

the lawyers or doctors give the “big revenge” in form that they show their power against the person they envy.

hell is legal fraud.
normal people cannot know because they do not experience it.

Judie Worrell says:

Band of thieves

Yes there is more to this than the public knows. Let’s start back with George’s bankruptcy suit. Prior to that bankruptcy (brought about as his reaction to the many lawsuits against him, including one I filed on behalf of Bernie– where George told me “get in line behind the IRS),George “owned” Malbiz, his publishing “arm”. Then, when asked to list his assets, all of a sudden Malbiz had nothing and Bridgeport Music did (Bridgeport being Armen’s publishing arm). Oh, yeah — George got a farm in Northern Michigan that belonged to Armen (or so I was told)..(as an aside, it was partially Armen’s kicking GC off that farm that furthered the rift between these two “no honor amongst thieves” LOL)
“somewhere” in all these machinations, the writers publishing rights went from GC to ARmen…with some being forgeries. Despite repeated requests to see the songwriting agreements they alleged Bernie signed, we never received them. Instead, I have a few — one where Bernie’s last name is spelled “Wooall” The key to all of this are the original songwriter agreements that EVERYONE refuses to let the REAL writers have a copy of or to see. Now, we come to the “copyright reversion” period where Armen is claiming ownership “in perpetuity”. Armen and his army of trolls have filed suit against an attorney (“defamation of character” being one of the accusations) who is trying to help the writers FINALLY get their rights back. I’m here to say “how can you defame” a bunch of liars and thieves who have never HAD any character. The character belongs to Bernie Worrell, Garry Shider, Jerome Brailey, and every other musician whose publishing rights were stolen (through no fault of their own except nobody, except George, knew about publishing way back then. They were too busy making music!!!! — NOBODY seems to give a crap about that!!! And now we have widows (Linda Shider), mothers (Eddie Hazel’s mother) and children who don’t have that for which their husbands/fathers/sons worked so hard. I was there. I KNOW. Bernie and I have been together over 45 years….I have copies of the bankruptcy papers (cause I sued GC on Bernie’s behalf). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again..the copyright laws of this country need updating. When a theft occurs and the creative person finds out — ALL monies should be frozen till it’s worked out. What that would accomplish is the thieves wouldn’t have the money they stole from the people who did the actual creative work to fight against them. How crazy and upside down is that????? Why should a Bernie Worrell have to run a Kickstarter campaign to get a vehicle so his current group “The Bernie Worrell Orchestra” could tour????when HE was one of the most prolific writers of the original P-Funk days (look at the hits and early songs) I pray to God/Allah/Jehovah/Yahweh that Armen Boladian and his army of trolls find themselves (rightfully) impoverished before they die and go to hell….because they have put these songwriters through hell on earth. Can you imgagine what it feels like to them to have done all that work and not have what they earned. Makes you wonder if there is ANY justice in “law”. So, if Bernie and the other writers don’t get their publishng back, I don’t give a “rat’s ass” what happens to George and Armen and his army of trolls!!!! They set this crap in motion…just give the writer’s back their copyrights (even though some are now dead –let their families FINALLY reap what is undeniably their’s.

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