Ohio business owners may end up in court when there is a vague term in a contract and each side thinks that it means something different. This is what happened in a recent lawsuit that record producer Quincy Jones filed against the estate of Michael Jackson. Unfortunately for Jones, an appeals court struck down much of the $9.2 million verdict that the jury had awarded him.
Jones filed a lawsuit against the pop star’s estate because two of his songs were used in a movie about Jackson and in Cirque du Soleil shows. Jones and Jackson had a contract that governed the use of Jones’ material. Jones was to be paid for “video shows” that featured his music.
In his lawsuit, Jones claimed that the movie and the live performance were video shows within the meaning of the contractual term that entitled him to payment. The trial court agreed with him when it awarded him the money. However, the appeals court found that the term in the contract did not support payment for these two uses. It did leave intact a $2.5 damages award for the unauthorized use of the master recordings of these songs. However, Jones ended up losing when a contractual term that he negotiated many years ago failed to protect him when the type of media changed in the future.
This is a common occurrence in business contracts. People negotiate contracts and then find out years later that they are not protected in the way they think. Then, they need the help of a business litigation attorney when the matter ends up being disputed between the two parties. The stakes in business litigation are high, and an attorney may help protect the business from liability or work to preserve needed revenues.