According to a report from Billboard.com, U.S. District Judge Michelle Peterson, working on the case between Vicky Cornell against the surviving members of Soundgarden, says there’s no evidence the band is withholding royalties from Chris Cornell’s widow. A federal judge in Washington state is recommending the court toss out two of Vicky Cornell’s six claims against the remaining members of Soundgarden, her late husband Chris Cornell’s band, so far.
U.S. District Judge Michelle Peterson said in report filed Friday that there wasn’t evidence that the band was improperly withholding “hundreds of thousands of dollars” of Chris Cornell’s royalties from her or that the band’s manager breached his duty to look after her best interests. Peterson’s report will now be sent to the case’s presiding judge, Robert S. Lasnik, who will make the final decision.
Vicky Cornell has been embroiled in an ongoing legal dispute with the band’s remaining members after her husband’s sudden death on May 18, 2017 at the age of 52 while on tour in Detroit. He left his property — including his intellectual and personal property rights — to her for the benefit of their two minor children.
On Dec. 9, 2019, two and half years after Chris Cornell’s death, Vicky Cornell filed a lawsuit against the remaining members of the band — Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd — and their business manager Rit Venerus, asking a judge to declare her the rightful owner of her husband’s unreleased sound recordings and of his name and likeness. She also demanded the court order the band to open its finances to her and to provide her with an inventory of all of Chris Cornell’s personal property that was stored at the Pearl Jam warehouse space. In addition, she claimed the band was withholding thousands of dollars of Chris Cornell’s royalties from her and accused the band’s manager of breaching his fiduciary duty to her.
In Peterson’s opinion, however, the judge found that Venerus was merely a go-between for Vicky Cornell and the band and not her advisor. In addition, Peterson said there wasn’t evidence that the band willfully withheld distribution of funds from Vicky Cornell or that funds were misappropriated to pay for the band’s legal fees in this case, as Vicky Cornell claimed in her suit. Soundgarden argued that the disputed funds are owned by the band’s partnership, and that under Washington law that partnership continues to legally own the funds until there is a distribution by a partner vote.
The band recently claimed Vicky has been acting inappropriately and has hijacked the bands official accounts for over a year, believing Chris intended for his final recordings under dispute be used for a final Soundgarden album, as Chris himself had said in the press before he died. It is believed Vicky intends the music to be a released Chris Cronell final solo album, of which she would claim to hold the rights.
Soundgarden declined to comment at this time.