A&M duo back in biz

Alpert, Moss can sue U Music and Seagram

Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss have been reinstated as plaintiffs in their lawsuit against Universal Music Group, charging that Universal and its parent Seagram have destroyed A&M Records, the company the duo founded in 1962.

On Thursday, L.A. Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz reversed his earlier ruling and granted a motion for reconsideration. This will allow Alpert and Moss to sue as individuals (instead of on behalf of a trust, which could not claim as much in damages) and show they were damaged by Universal’s alleged violation of a unique “label integrity” clause in their contract.

Attorney Richard Posell, who represents Alpert and Moss, said, “This is an important victory. Jerry and Herb were personally hurt and devastated by the actions of Universal and Seagram. We look forward to a swift resolution of this disturbing matter.”

Universal executives said they do not comment on pending litigation.

Moss and Alpert originally sued A&M, PolyGram and Philips Electronics in June 1998, seeking $3.6 million in earn-out payments and $2 million in interest they claimed was due them from the 1989 sale of their label to PolyGram. The duo claimed breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud arising from the sale of A&M.

In August, Moss and Alpert added claims against Universal and Seagram, which had purchased PolyGram and A&M in 1998. They charged that by consolidating PolyGram’s labels and not giving them individual attention and resources, Universal was violating the “label integrity” conditions of their contract with PolyGram, which mandated that the integrity of the A&M label be maintained for 20 years. The duo sought an additional $200 million from Universal.

In October, Munoz sided with Universal, which claimed that Alpert and Moss were not the proper parties to pursue the claims, but Thursday’s ruling reinstates Alpert and Moss as plaintiffs.

Sources close to the case said Thursday they believe the claim will be ultimately dismissed in summary judgment.

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