Judge Trims "Baby Come Back" Royalties Lawsuit Against Vivendi

Player Band - Getty - H 2018
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A royalties lawsuit over Player's 1977 hit "Baby Come Back" is one step closer to trial after a California judge on Wednesday allowed a trimmed version of the complaint to move forward. 

Overrated Productions, which recently acquired rights to the work, sued Universal Music Group, its parent Vivendi and Universal International Music B.V. in November, claiming they were underpaying royalties.

UMG asked the court to toss Overrated's claims for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and unfair competition, as well as its request for declaratory relief and an accounting, arguing the company failed to state sufficient facts to support the claims. 

In a tentative ruling, which was later adopted, Los Angeles County Superior Court judge John P. Doyle overruled the demurrer as to the implied covenant and accounting claims and sustained it with regard to the unfair competition and declaratory relief claims. Overrated has 20 days to amend its unfair competition claim to address Doyle's concern that it failed to plead unlawful conduct.

UMG also asked the court to strike any claims other than those based on royalty statements after Nov. 6, 2015, arguing they are time-barred.

"The Motion to Strike is denied as to the issue of the statute of limitations," writes Doyle. "This is because there is essentially nothing to strike. Even if claims premised on royalty payments made more than two years before the Complaint was filed were time-barred, there are no allegations specific to such royalty payments that might be stricken."  

Doyle on Wednesday struck UMG as a defendant because it is not a corporate entity and, while entities like UMG that comprise an integrated enterprise may be liable for the actions of one of its corporations, Overrated "put the cart before the horse" and failed to properly plead such an argument.