After filing dueling lawsuits in 2020, Big Ligas and Paulo Londra amicably resolved their differences in a Miami courtroom. Their trial began jury selection and opening statements on Monday with Judge William Thomas presiding over the case.
In late September, a Miami-Dade County judge set a trial date in the ongoing contract dispute between Londra and record label Big Ligas. The order set the stage for a jury trial in Londra’s two-year legal battle with Cristian Salazar and producer Daniel Oviedo (Ovy on the Drums), with whom he co-founded Big Ligas in 2018.
The label claims the Argentine trap artist breached his contract, while Londra has countersued, saying Salazar and Oviedo “defrauded” him when they had him sign a three-year joint venture agreement deal memo, which — according to legal documents — was then extended without Londra’s consent.
That deal memo is at the root of the dispute.The initial term was three years, but if Big Ligas entered a recording or publishing agreement with a “major label,” it would modify the contract’s initial three-year term. During the course of the term, Big Ligas entered a $3 million licensing deal with Warner Music Latina in January 2019.
Under Big Ligas, Londra released his debut album, Homerun, via Warner in May 2019. The album debuted at No. 12 on Billboard‘s Top Latin Albums chart and No. 10 on the Latin Rhythm Albums chart. He scored a best new artist nomination at the 2019 Latin Grammys.
Billboard compiled a timeline of the major markers in the Londra and Big Ligas contract dispute.
May 14, 2020
Billboard initially reported on the dueling lawsuits in May 2020 — two months after Colombian entrepreneur Salazar and artist-producer Ovy on the Drums filed a lawsuit against the singer-songwriter on March 5, 2020, accusing him of breach of contract and indebtedness. Londra in turn filed a lawsuit a day later accusing Salazar and Oviedo of fraud and negligent representation.
Londra alleges that Salazar and Oviedo “defrauded” and duped him into signing the joint venture agreement with them. According to his 22-page lawsuit, filed in the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit for Miami-Dade, Salazar presented Londra with a document to sign during a February 2018 video shoot announcing Big Ligas’ formation. Londra claims he signed the paperwork thinking it was a video “prop,” not a “binding contract.”
Salazar and Oviedo strongly deny Londra’s claims, arguing in their suit that Londra has “enjoyed significant benefits” under his deal with Big Ligas, including a “highly-lucrative agreement with Warner Music for which he was separately represented by counsel and under which he received over one million dollars and touring revenue.” They claim that despite their “exhausting efforts” and “resulting success of Londra,” the singer-songwriter began to “slow-walk” his participation.
In a 13-page order, Judge William Thomas ruled that the deal memo’s term expired Feb. 20, 2021, adding that, “Even if the language of the relevant contracts supported Big Ligas’ proffered interpretation of the Deal Memo’s term (which it plainly does not), the Deal Memo could not be enforced because it would constitute an illegal restraint of trade and lead to absurd results.”
“The Big Ligas Defendants’ assertion that they can unilaterally enter into recording agreements for Londra’s services, such as the Warner Amendment, would give them discretion to extend the Deal Memo’s term in perpetuity and force Londra’s personal services to write songs and record music for the Big Ligas Defendants against his will forever,” the judge stated.
Days after Judge Thomas ruled that the deal memo’s term expired Feb. 20, 2021, a judge granted Big Ligas a joint emergency motion for review of denial of stay of order determining immediate possession of property, putting a temporary stay on the verdict pending further review.
In the wake of that order, Big Ligas also filed a brief requesting the court of appeals to overturn the order issued by the trial judge that, according to the documents, “It reached outside the four-corners of the unambiguous agreements and relied on parol evidence. Reversal is warranted because the plain and unambiguous language of the contracts establishes that the “Term” of the “Deal Memorandum” expires no sooner than November 23, 2024.”
Because Big Ligas’ appeal is what’s known as an “interlocutory appeal” that occurs midway through a case, a trial will also be held back in the lower court to resolve the remaining portions of the case focusing on if the deal memo is a valid and enforceable agreement, Londra’s accusations of fraud against the label and the repercussions of it, and when the deal memo actually expired, among other things.
A Miami-Dade County judge set Nov. 8 as the trial date in the ongoing contract dispute between Londra and Big Ligas.
On Monday (Nov. 8), the trial began with jury selection and opening statements. The trial is expected to continue throughout the week.
The very public and contentious multi-million dollar dispute between Argentine trap star and his label was settled quietly and amicably in a small Miami courtroom just three days into a trial.
Amid smiles and hugs, Londra and Big Ligas’ attorneys — James Sammataro and Jesús Cuza, respectively — wrote a statement provided to Billboard that said: “The parties’ lawyers have stated that the parties are happy to announce that they have resolved their differences and that they will make a joint press release in the future.”
Those differences have now been resolved, although no details were provided. All parties were present in court, including Londra who flew in from Argentina. There was no comment on when Londra will release new music — when asked if he was going to release new music, he just smiled.
Warner will continue to administer Londra’s existing works, but no comment was provided as to his future works.