Suit turns table on long-running complaint

Adding a new twist to a 30-year-old story, Berry Gordy, founder of legendary Motown Record Corp., has sued Edward Holland Jr. of the famed Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting trio for malicious prosecution.

Gordy was the target of a series of lawsuits dating back to 1968 in which HDH charged they had been cheated out of royalties on the hit songs they wrote for such Motown acts as the Supremes and the Four Tops.

Their vast credits include such classics as “Baby, I Need Your Loving,” “This Old Heart of Mine,” “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch.” To date, 64 of the claims asserted in three lawsuits have been dismissed.

According to the complaint, filed Tuesday in L.A. Superior Court, HDH claimed in a 1968 lawsuit that they had been coerced into giving up the rights to their songs, that Berry had forged their signatures on various documents and cheated them on royalties. The 1968 litigation, which was ultimately settled, took place in Michigan.

In 1987, Motown paid an IRS levy on Holland’s songwriting royalties. Holland filed another lawsuit against Berry in 1988, making the same claims as the 1968 lawsuit. After 12 years, the case was finally dismissed by the Michigan Supreme Court.

In 1992, Holland filed yet another lawsuit against Berry with the same claims.

The complaint does not specify damages, but sources say Berry has spent over $2 million in legal fees.

A spokesperson for Gordy said, “For Mr. Gordy, this isn’t about money, it’s about setting the record straight. Mr. Gordy feels he has an obligation to the countless people who together created the Motown legacy, and this action is part of that responsibility.”

Holland could not be reached for comment.

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