Jackson Walker L.L.P. won a decisive victory for its clients, legendary music producer Bill Ham and his music publishing and management companies (“Hamstein”), in a high-profile, multi-faceted legal battle over copyright ownership and licensing rights to hundreds of hit songs written by Jerry Lynn Williams for such well-known artists as Eric Clapton, B.B. King, and Bonnie Raitt.
On Feb. 25, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the trial court’s ruling in favor of Hamstein in a suit brought against the late Mr. Williams’ wife, Lorelei Williams, and the Estate of Jerry Lynn Williams over the fraudulent transfer of assets that included valuable music copyrights.
The favorable verdict marked the second appellate victory Jackson Walker achieved on behalf of its client in this complex legal dispute. The first came in May of 2013, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of Hamstein in a case involving the confirmation and enforcement of a favorable arbitration award that Jackson Walker helped Hamstein secure against Mr. Williams and his estate.
The dispute dates back to 1998, when Hamstein sued Mr. Williams for breach of a 1994 publishing agreement. Arbitration proceedings were initiated, and Hamstein, represented by Jackson Walker attorney Larry Waks, was awarded approximately $1.2 million. The district court reduced that award; however, on appeal, the Fifth Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment and instructed the district court to render judgment confirming the arbitrator’s award in its entirety. Jackson Walker attorneys Larry Waks and Emilio Nicolas represented Hamstein in that appeal, with Mr. Waks presenting oral arguments to the Court.
The most recent action involved a claim that Mr. Williams fraudulently transferred assets – including a book of nearly 400 valuable music copyrights – to Ms. Williams through a consent divorce decree in violation of Oklahoma’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. Following a bench trial, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma entered judgment in favor of Hamstein, denied Ms. Williams’ motion for a new trial, and compelled Ms. Williams to post an appeal cost bond. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s bond order and affirmed the denial of Ms. Williams’ motion for a new trial.
Hamstein was represented before the district court by Jackson Walker’s Mr. Waks with local co-counsel Douglas Dodd of Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson, L.L.P. in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On appeal, Hamstein was represented by a Jackson Walker legal team including Mr. Waks, Mr. Nicolas, attorney Edwin Buffmire, and paralegal Larry Bales, with local co-counsel Mr. Dodd and Jon Brightmire of Doerner, Saunders.
The successful outcome in each of these cases demonstrates the strength of Jackson Walker’s Entertainment Law, Litigation and Appellate practices. With a wealth of legal and business experience in the music industry, Jackson Walker attorneys have a deep understanding of copyright law and particularities of the music publishing business, which is an invaluable arrow in the legal quiver of any client seeking to successfully prosecute or defend against entertainment law claims.