Funk singer Sly Stone has been awarded $5 million by a Los Angeles jury in his lawsuit against a former manager and attorney he claimed diverted royalties from his music for their own benefit.
The Los Angeles Superior Court announced its verdict on Tuesday, after two days of deliberations.
Stone’s litigation, filed under his real name Sylvester Stewart, involved millions of dollars in royalties and stretched over almost five years.
He filed suit in 2010, claiming that manager Gerald Goldstein and attorney Glenn Stone in the late 1980s induced him to sign an employment and shareholder agreement with Even Street Prods., but that they instead used the arrangement to divert millions in royalties, leaving him unable to get the money he said was due him.
The jury awarded $2.5 million in damages against Even St. Productions, $2.45 million against Goldstein and $50,000 against attorney Glenn Stone.
“It was a classic case of Hollywood accounting, but I guess it would have to be called record industry accounting,” said Nick Hornberger of Hornberger Law Corp., the lead attorney for the singer.
The jury, he said, “sent a very clear message.”
Gregory Bodell of Kozberg & Bodell, lead attorney for the defendants, said via e-mail that the jury found that Sly Stone was underpaid by $2.5 million under the employment agreement with Even St. Prods., and that the money was paid instead to Goldstein and Stone.
“We are disappointed in the finding and believe it will be changed by further proceedings,” Bodell said.
Stone, whose real name is Sylvester Stewart, testified that he had not received any royalty payments between 1989 and 2000.
But attorneys for Goldstein and Glenn Stone contended that the singer was paid millions, but broke an agreement to make new records. They claim that the singer was not tricked into signing the contract, but was aware of the terms and renewed the agreement 40 times over 15 years between 1994 and 2006.