Sly and the Family Stone Dance to the Music of Contract Damages Award

As an update for Orlando breach of contract lawyers, in a recent musically themed breach of contract lawsuit, a Los Angeles jury awarded $5 million to funk/pop legend Sly Stone, founding member of Sly and the Family Stone.  Sly sued his former business partners for breach of contract after they cheated him out of royalties from his music over a 20 year period.

Although he was famous for a string of hits in the 60s and 70s and previously lived the lifestyle of the rich and famous in a Beverly Hills mansion, Sly hit hard times and was near destitute in 1989.  This is when Gerald Goldstein and Glenn Stone approached him and talked him into becoming an employee and co-owner of Even St. Productions with them.  Goldstein, his business manager, and Stone, his attorney, persuaded Sly to sign an employment contract and shareholder agreement that essentially assigned the remaining rights to his music to Even St. Productions, which would then promote and sell the rights to his music and distribute the proceeds to the company’s shareholders.

Sly Sues for Breach of Contract

Fast forward about 20 years, and in 2011, Sly was essentially homeless and living in an RV that he parked on the streets of Los Angeles.  At this point, his attorney filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Goldstein, Stone and Even St. Productions.  Although Goldstein and Stone testified that they paid off IRS debts and made over $9 million for Sly over the course of their relationship, the jury rejected their story.  Instead, the jury found that Goldstein, Stone and the company committed breach of contract by failing to pay Sly $5 million dollars in royalties over the course of their relationship.

The jury assessed breach of contract damages of $2.5 million against Even St. Productions, $2.45 million against Goldstein and $50,000 against Glenn Stone.  Even St. Productions filed for bankruptcy protection in 2013, so collecting any money from it is unlikely.  An additional $3.5 million in royalties has accrued since the lawsuit was initially filed, and the court will have to determine how this money is distributed amongst the parties.  Goldstein and Stone vowed to appeal the judgment.  You can read more about the story behind Sly’s breach of contract dispute here.

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