Ray Charles Foundation Lawsuit

Officials with the Ray Charles Foundation sued seven of the late singer’s 12 children for as much as $3.5 million, claiming the heirs are illegally trying to obtain copyrights on dozens of the late artist’s songs.

The complaint, filed in Los Angeles March 29, accuses Raenee Robinson, Ray Charles Robinson Jr., Sheila Robinson, Robert F. Robinson, Reatha Butler and Robyn Moffett of breach of contract.

Court papers obtained by Pollstar say the lawsuit is based on the knowledge that in 2002, Charles established that each of his children including the defendants were to receive $500,000 in separate irrevocable trusts upon his death in exchange for not seeking any other money or inheritance from the estate.

The bulk of Charles’ estate, including copyrights to dozens of his songs, went to the foundation after his death in 2004 to fund causes including youth programs and hearing impairment research.

The heirs named in the suit took the $500,000 payouts, but are allegedly attempting to exploit a “termination of copyrights transfer” rule in order to get back ownership, and potential income, of at least 50 musical compositions.

The foundation seeks monetary, declarative and injunctive relief as well as to stop the copyright transfer.