A state appeals court has upheld a judgment against regional Mexican label Platino Records, in a lawsuit the indie label had filed against Univision Music alleging breach of contract and payola-related extortion.

Platino Records sued its distributor Univision Music in August 2007, accusing the company of driving down Platino's sales by cutting its marketing and distribution of the smaller label's music.

In the suit, which sought damages in excess of $10 million, Platino alleged Univision was trying to intimidate Platino's owner, Alberto Mitchell, from testifying against Univision in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former Fonovisa promotions VP Daniel Mireles. Mireles had accused his employer of firing him for his refusal to keep bribing radio station program directors to play Univision's artists.

In a September 2008 ruling in the Platino case, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge found in favor of Univision Music (which was acquired by Universal Music Group in 2008 and eventually restructured into Universal Music Latin Entertainment). Platino appealed, and on Monday (May 10), a California state appeals court affirmed that judgment in favor of Univision Music.

In its ruling, the appeals court judges stated that Platino had failed to show that Univision was required to market Platino releases, as opposed to merely distribute them; to show that Univision had failed to distribute the albums across the board; or that Univision didn't deliver royalty reports to Platino as required.

As to the extortion claim, the judges stated that Univision's reduction of Platino's monthly recoupable advance from $200,000 to $150,000 in 2006 did not qualify as extortion under civil law. "Because Platino did not 'part' with any property it owned, including money, there is nothing to restore."

An attorney for Platino did not respond to a call at press time.

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