Judge Dismisses Graham Estate Suit

A judge in Oakland, Calif., has once again dismissed a lawsuit filed by the sons of the late Bill Graham against the executor of their father’s estate over millions of dollars of music memorabilia.

Photo: Photo by Baron Wolman / courtesy of Photofest

David Graham and Alexander Graham-Sult sued executor and former Bill Graham Presents (BGP) president Nick Clainos in 2010 for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion and copyright claims.

Their suit accused Clainos and others of transferring Graham’s memorabilia and property to Bill Graham Enterprises prior to its sale to SFX Entertainment (now Live Nation), but failing to inform them the sale included all of Graham’s copyrights and trademarks, including that of the Fillmore Auditorium.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken dismissed that suit in 2011 but an appeals court later found she’d erred in doing so.

In her most recent decision, Wilken ruled that the memorabilia in question was actually owned by Bill Graham Enterprises and sold as part of an above-board transaction, according to court documents obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle. She added the Fillmore trademark was part of the company sale, from which the sons each received $778,000 plus 10 percent shares in the new company.

A lawyer for Graham’s sons told the paper they will likely appeal.

“We will likely end up in the Ninth Circuit and hope that our clients have an opportunity to present their case to a jury,” attorney Arturo González said.

“I hope that Alexander and David move on with their lives and get rid of their misguided fears that somebody wronged them,” Clainos attorney Zia Modabber told the paper.