Monday, March 29, 2021

Judge updates Vicky Cornell lawsuit against Soundgarden

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 in the latest update to a legal battle initiated by singer Chris Cornell’s widow on behalf of his estate in December of 2019.

Among the issues presented in the case, Vicky claims the Seattle band has been withholding royalties from her in an effort to gain access to vocal tracks for seven songs the singer recorded in his personal studio in Florida, while alleging that there was never any explicit agreement that the material was recorded for Soundgarden.

According to Billboard, a report filed by U.S. District Judge Michelle Peterson determined that there wasn’t evidence that the band was improperly withholding “hundreds of thousands of dollars” of Chris’s royalties from her.

Soundgarden had previously 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.

Peterson did not issue a finding on Soundgarden’s “alternative argument” that Chris Cornell became dissociated from the partnership when he passed; they argued that because the band never had a written band agreement, Washington general partnership law therefore governs their dispute, and that under that law, they are only obliged to provide a buyout offer to his estate after receiving a formal written buyout demand.

Last month, Vicky launched a separate lawsuit over the terms of a buyout price for her stake in the band on behalf of the estate while asking a federal judge to determine the value of her late husband’s interest in the group.

As for Vicky’s claim that Soundgarden business manager Rit Venerus breached his duty to look after her best interests, Peterson found that Venerus was merely a go-between for Vicky and the band and not her advisor.

“The magistrate’s recommendation was based solely on her subjective and un-adopted opinion that additional facts must be added to our client’s complaint, and we intend to amend our client’s complaint to include those facts,” said Vicky’s attorney Marty Singer. “Most importantly, the magistrate’s recommendation has zero impact on the significant claims against Soundgarden and its band members, who have sought to trample on Chris Cornell’s rights by unlawfully asserting ownership over his vocal recordings and by depriving his wife and children of millions of dollars that the band members want to keep for themselves.”

Peterson’s report will now be sent to the case’s presiding judge, Robert S. Lasnik, who will make the final decision.

Learn more about the case at

Cornell took his own life at the age of 52 in a Detroit hotel room in the early hours of May 18, 2017 following a Soundgarden show in the city.
See also:

Soundgarden respond to Vicky Cornell lawsuit
Chris Cornell’s widow sues Soundgarden over buyout terms
Chris Cornell streams cover of John Lennon classic
Chris Cornell covers collection released
Search Soundgarden at hennemusic