Musicians had sued over elimination of awards categories

Ending a year of sometimes strident public wrangling over the size of the Grammy Awards, a New York judge has dismissed a class action filed against the Recording Academy by four Latin jazz musicians.

State Supreme Court Judge Jeffrey K. Oing granted NARAS’ motion to dismiss the case on April 24.

The suit had followed the academy’s announcement last April that it was reducing the number of Grammy categories from 109 to 78 (Daily Variety, April 7, 2011). For years, critics both within and outside of the organization had complained that the awards process had become unwieldy.

NARAS’ decision to slash categories — which led to the elimination of several niche genre slots — was immediately met by criticism in some quarters, with Latin musician Bobby Sanabria the loudest dissenter.

In August, Sanabria, Ben Lapidus, Mark Levine and Eugene Marlow sued the academy, alleging breach of contract and fiduciary duty (Daily Variety, Aug. 4).

The category cuts were implemented at this year’s Feb. 12 Grammys ceremonies. A handful of protesters demonstrated near Staples Center.

Reacting to the dismissal, Recording Academy prexy-CEO Neil Portnow said: “The decision makes it very clear in the eyes of our legal system that we, as we’ve said all along … have done all of the changes that we’ve made through our process based on our own rules, regulations and bylaws.”

Portnow added it was unlikely that the academy would reverse itself on the cuts that have already been made.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

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