Victory Sues Virgin/EMI

Victory Records is suing Virgin Records and its parent, EMI Music, claiming Virgin executives poached flagship act Hawthorne Heights before the band had fulfilled its contract.

The lawsuit, filed November 2nd in Illinois’ United States District Court, accuses Virgin/EMI of tortious interference with Victory’s agreement with the band. The company is seeking $10 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.

“The case filed by [Hawthorne Heights] in this action is really about greed, despite unfounded and spurious laundry-list allegations made concerning Victory Records, Inc., and its founder and owner, Anthony Brummel,” the lawsuit says.

“The plaintiffs are now willing to say anything – no matter how untrue or defamatory – as a strategy designed to free themselves from their legal obligations to the independent record label that made them famous in favor of the ‘greener pastures’ and financial inducements offered by so-called ‘major’ record distribution companies.”

The indie label’s lawsuit accuses Virgin president Jason Flom and head of business affairs Jason Kempler of manipulating Hawthorne Heights into severing ties with Victory while still under contract.

The lawsuit said Victory learned of the band’s deal with Virgin/EMI September 7th from Flom, EMI Chairman/CEO David Munns and EMI COO Ivan Gavin.

Pollstar‘s attempt to reach a Virgin/EMI representative was unsuccessful at press time.

U.S. District Court Judge Milton Shadur threw out two of Hawthorne Heights’ claims during an October 18th hearing, saying the band’s contention it could terminate its contract at will as well as Victory’s right to sell the band’s recordings was “absurd.”

“As a result of this court order, Hawthorne Heights has a binding commitment to deliver two additional full-length albums to Victory, and that Victory has the right to distribute and sell those albums (as well as the first two albums that have already been delivered under the agreement),” according to a statement from Victory Records.

The legal battle began when Hawthorne Heights filed a lawsuit against Victory and Brummel in August alleging fraudulent accounting practices, among other charges.

Band members Eron Bucciarelli-Tieger, Casey Calvert, Micah Carli, Matt Ridenour and JT Woodruff then posted a scathing letter titled “The Real Manifesto” on its Web site, accusing Brummel of caring more “about his ego and bank account than the bands themselves” and describing him as “a man whose greed knows no bounds.”

“You might be wondering, why now? Why did they wait three years before saying something? Like being in an abusive relationship, we let certain things slide as we were afraid, as many bands on Victory are, to stick our neck out for fear of being ‘beaten,’ in this case represented by the threat of not being promoted as has been the case with certain bands on the roster. We’re done being abused,” the letter said.