May-Loo Music, a music publishing group owned by the widow of music composer Bill Loose, won a $1.9 million jury award.
LOS ANGELES--May-Loo Music, a music publishing group owned by the widow of music composer Bill Loose, won a $1.9 million jury award.
In court, Irma Loose alleged that a business partner had mismanaged residuals, taken control of her husband's songs and entered into business dealings without her knowledge.
Best known for creating the theme songs for popular TV shows such as "Dennis the Menace" and "The Donna Reed Show," Loose left his music and publishing company, May-Loo Music, to his wife after he died in 1991.
"Bill Loose's treasury of songs has been restored to its rightful owners at May-Loo Music," says lead attorney George Belfield, a litigator in Greenberg Traurig's Los Angeles office. "Mrs. Loose was clearly taken advantage of by a business partner she entrusted with her husband's music, and the jury quickly recognized that fraud had occurred."
Loose's music library had languished for many years after his death and royalties were minimal. His wife Irma had no real experience in music publishing and had not been involved with her husband's work.
In 1997, music publisher Don Great had approached Irma as a former "friend" of her husband's, convincing her to enter him into a contract with May-Loo Music that allowed Great to act as a co-publisher for Loose's music.
Great had agreed to pay her 50% of what he earned from his management of her husband's songs. In subsequent weeks, he also convinced Irma to sign four amendments to the original contract, each more restrictive than the last.
By 1999, when May-Loo's royalties had not increased significantly, Irma complained to Great, who hired a lawyer and ceased all communication with May-Loo Music.
Then, in early 2002, Great settled alleged claims by six composers who said they had an ownership interest in Loose's music but allegedly never told May-Loo Music about the settlements. May-Loo Music sued Great in June 2002 in state court, to which Great filed a cross-complaint for fraud and related claims against May-Loo Music and Irma personally.
The case was removed to federal court in Santa Ana in 2003, and trial began on Jan. 27, 2004, before the Honorable James V. Selna.Two weeks later, the jury returned a verdict for $1.9 million ($1.8 million for breach of fiduciary duty and $100,000 for fraud) for May-Loo Music and Irma Loose, each receiving $950,000.
The defendant received nothing on his cross-complaint and also was ordered by the judge to pay the full amount of May-Loo Music's attorney's fees.
"It's a victory all around," says Belfield, "especially when we are able to quickly provide closure for our client May-Loo Music. We are pleased to have helped return Bill Loose's songwriting legacy to his family."
Greenberg Traurig attorney Jordan Grotzinger was co-counsel.