Soundgarden and Tupac Estate Withdraw From Class Action Lawsuit Over 2008 Universal Fire

Ross A. Lincoln

In a terse court filing Friday, the band Soundgarden and the estate of Tupac Shakur withdrew as named plaintiffs in the ongoing class action lawsuit against Universe Music Group over the 2008 fire that destroyed an undetermined number of master recordings.

According to the filing, Soundgarden and Shakur’s estate “hereby dismiss without prejudice their individual claims, and withdraw as a putative class.” Both Soundgarden and Shakur’s estate “reserve their rights to proceed in this matter as absent class members,” the filing reads.

This action reduces the total number of named plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit to two: Jane Petty, widow of Tom Petty, and Steve Earle. The band Hole was removed from the lawsuit in August after it was determined none of their masters were damaged.

Also Read: Universal Confirms Nirvana, Elton John and Sonic Youth Masters Lost or Damaged in 2008 Vault Fire

The remaining plaintiffs are suing for breach of contract — revenue sharing, breach of contract — bailment, negligence, reckless conduct, conversion and misrepresentation but omission. They claim the warehouse the masters (the original source from which all copies are produced) was a “firetrap.”

The suit also says the plaintiffs are entitled to a percentage of the substantial funds UMG recovered from its insurance claims after the fire.

While UMG confirms that assets were lost in the fire, its continued focus is evaluating what was and wasn’t lost. The New York Times estimates assets from “hundreds more artists,” including Dr. Martin Luther King, were affected by the blaze.

Also Read: Universal Music Group Maintains 'Many' of Artist Plaintiffs' Masters Were Not Lost in 2008 Fire

UMG did not immediately have comment for TheWrap on Friday, but in a statement provided last month, representatives said: “The plaintiffs’ lawyers have already been informed that none of the masters for four of their five clients were affected by the fire — and the one other client was alerted years earlier and UMG and the artist, working together, were still able to locate a high-quality source for a reissue project. Recognizing the lack of merit of their original claims, plaintiffs’ attorneys are now willfully and irresponsibly conflating lost assets (everything from safeties and videos to artwork) with original album masters, in a desperate attempt to inject substance into their meritless legal case. Over the last eight months, UMG’s archive team has diligently and transparently responded to artist inquiries, and we will not be distracted from completing our work, even as the plaintiffs’ attorneys pursue these baseless claims.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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