Court Revives Lawsuit Against Valli

A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a copyright lawsuit against Frankie Valli and fellow “Four Seasons” band member Robert Gaudio over “Jersey Boys,” the popular musical about the band.

Photo: Chris McKay /
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Cente, Atlanta, Ga.

Donna Corbello sued Valli and Gaudio in 2011 for copyright infringement, claiming the musical was based in part on an unpublished autobiography of “Four Seasons” band member Thomas DeVito that her late husband ghost-wrote. She said she deserved to share in the profits from the musical’s success.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling in favor of Valli and Gaudio and sent the case back down for further proceedings. The court said there was contradictory evidence about whether Valli and Gaudio executed an agreement with DeVito to produce the play in time to avoid termination of their ownership rights.

Daniel Mayeda, an attorney for Valli and Gaudio, said he was disappointed in the ruling, but he had not yet decided whether he would appeal.

Corbello is also suing DeVito. The 9th Circuit ruled that DeVito had transferred his copyright in the autobiography to Valli and Gaudio, and therefore had to account to Corbello for any profits he obtained from it.

A call to DeVito’s attorney was not immediately returned.