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The Gaye family will have to foot the bill for the attorneys they hired to take their “Blurred Lines” fight to a jury.
In a March hearing, U.S. District Court judge John A. Kronstadt tentatively ruled that he would not award legal fees to Marvin Gaye’s heirs, and on Tuesday he made it official.
After a March 2015 trial, the jury sided with the Gayes, finding Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s hit “Blurred Lines” infringed on Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” and awarded the family $7.4 million.
Kronstadt later dialed that award back to $5.3 million in damages plus 50 percent of the song’s future royalties, and now he’s denying much of the $3.5 million the Gayes wanted to add to that tab.
“The Gaye Parties have not shown that an award of attorney’s fees is warranted,” Kronstadt wrote in his decision. “Beyond the success on the merits, little else supports their position. This case presented novel issues. How they would be determined was not, even with hindsight, something that was clear.”
Kronstadt has not yet decided exactly what amount the Gayes should be reimbursed for costs relating to the case, because he says there are blurred lines as to which financial line items may correspond to a lawsuit over “Love After War” in which they did not prevail.
He found that the Gayes are entitled to 65 percent of costs related to expert witnesses and deposition transcripts, service of process and service of subpoenas on several companies.
“The total cost award must be recalculated in conformance with this Order,” Kronstadt wrote. “Because all data necessary to do so has not been provided, the Gaye Parties shall file an amended request on or before April 21, 2016, with figures that are consistent with the terms of this Order.”
In the opposition to the Gayes‘ fee request, Williams’ attorney Howard King attached a declaration from musicologist Gerald Eskelin who questioned the “breathtaking” six-figure paycheck the Gayes requested for musicologist Judith Finell.
In response, the Gaye family attorneys moved to strike Eskelin’s declaration from the record and file it under seal. Kronstadt granted the motion to strike, but denied the request to seal the documents.
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