Legal and Management

Soundgarden Asks Court to Dismiss Lawsuit by Chris Cornell's Widow Over Frontman's Final Recordings

Soundgarden pose for portraits at the Soundwave Festival at Melbourne showgrounds on Feb. 22, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.
Martin Philbey/Redferns

Soundgarden pose for portraits at the Soundwave Festival at Melbourne showgrounds on Feb. 22, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. 

In Soundgarden's ongoing court battle with Chris Cornell's widow, Vicky Cornell, the surviving band members -- Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Hunter Benedict Shepherd -- have asked a judge to either dismiss her Florida case against them or to move it to Washington state. The trio are locked in a dispute with Vicky Cornell over Chris Cornell's last recordings, arguing that they worked jointly on these final tracks with late lead singer -- what they are calling the"final Soundgarden album" -- and that Vicky has no right to withhold them.

The band members raised their allegations against Vicky Cornell in court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Florida on Monday, responding to a federal lawsuit she brought against them in December. Vickey Cornell has accused the band members of trying to "strong-arm" her into turning over seven unreleased audio recordings by withholding royalties and claimed the band has no legal rights to the recordings, which she says were "solely authored" by Chris Cornell and bequeathed to his estate for her and their children's benefit.

In the new motion, the band claims that Vicky Cornell should not have filed her lawsuit in Florida, arguing that despite her claim that she and Cornell "permanently moved to Miami," she actually lives in New York and that her claimed residence in Florida is only a South Beach condo, which is also the principal residence of her mother and brother. The members also argue that there is no evidence that Chris Cornell did any relevant recording work in Florida or that the band has had any substantial contact with Florida. They note that because Vicky can’t show Florida has jurisdiction in the case, it should either be dismissed or transferred to Washington.

In previous filings, the band members said that the group had been working on Soundgarden's eighth album when Cornell died. In addition, they claimed that Vicky's allegations that they had behaved callously at the time of Cornell's death were "patently false and emotionally abusive."

"Thayil, Cameron and Shepherd were utterly devastated to lose their beloved friend, brother and comrade, and were in a state of shock," read the band’s Feb. 3 court filing. "They organized a vigil in a conference room at their Columbus hotel, where they were accompanied by their crew, assistants and friends who hugged, wept and attempted to console each other for many hours."

Vicky Cornell’s lawyer Marty Singer told Billboard in a statement in February that his client disagrees with the band's "blatant mischaracterization of events.”

"It is disappointing that Chris’ former band members have now sought to taint his legacy by making numerous false allegations, and that they continue to withhold substantial monies from his widow and minor children (despite using those same funds to pay for their own legal fees),” said Singer. “ The issue in this case is not who wrote the songs but rather who owns the specific recordings made solely by Chris while he resided in Florida. We are very confident that the Court will vindicate the rights of Chris’ Estate, and that the case will properly remain in Florida, where Chris resided and recorded the songs that are now the lawful property of his Estate.”