A Manhattan jury on Wednesday (Nov. 10) cleared Jay-Z in a lawsuit that claimed he breached an endorsement deal for a “Gold Jay-Z” cologne brand by failing to properly promote it, allowing the superstar to avoid $67 million in requested damages.
Capping off a contentious three-week trial over the soured product deal with Parlux Fragrances LLC, the jury was apparently swayed by arguments from Jay-Z’s attorney that asked “why on earth” the star would have put his name on a product that he wanted to fail.
Wednesday’s verdict awarded nothing to Parlux, but also declined to award any money to Jay-Z, who had sought roughly $6 million in royalties he said he was still owed under the deal.
“You failed to prove your case, they failed to prove their case,” Justice Andrew Borrok said to an attorney for Parlux after the verdict was read aloud in court. “You’re excused.”
In a statement to Billboard following the jury’s verdict, Jay-Z said: “I’d like to express my gratitude to the jury, especially during these difficult times.”
Wednesday’s verdict came after nearly six years of litigation over “Gold Jay-Z,” which the superstar launched in 2013 through a partnership with Parlux, which had previously launched licensed fragrances with other major artists like Rihanna.
Parlux accused Jay-Z and his S. Carter Enterprises of failing to promote the fragrance, breaching the terms of their business contract and costing the company millions. The lawsuit said he refused to appear for events like Good Morning America and then refused to approve later iterations needed to keep the brand relevant.
Jay-Z denied the accusations, saying he fulfilled his obligations under the agreement despite numerous missteps from Parlux that threatened to damage his personal brand. He countersued, saying he was still owed millions in royalties.
A jury trial kicked off on Oct. 18, featuring two days of heated testimony from the star himself. Jay-Z repeatedly sparred with Parlux’s attorney, calling him out for using “lawyer tricks” and even threatening to file a new lawsuit.
Closing arguments came Tuesday. Jay-Z lawyer Alex Spiro, of the firm Quinn Emmanuel, argued that the entire case was “misunderstanding” and that Parlux had actually breached the deal first by how it had conducted itself.
Meanwhile, Parlux attorney Anthony J. Viola, of the firm Mintz Levin, said Jay-Z had “thrown sand in the gears of what Parlux was trying to do” when they disagreed over how to promote the product. He also accused Jay-Z and his company of destroying evidence by deleting certain emails, and asked the jury to award a total of $67.6 million in damages.
Parlux is certain to appeal the verdict, first by asking the judge to overturn the verdict and then by taking the case to a state appeals court. The company could argue that the judge unfairly allowed certain evidence, or that jurors could not legally have reached their conclusion based on what they heard.
In a statement to Billboard, Parlux said that it “believes it presented a strong case and is disappointed that the jury rendered a verdict today finding that neither side proved breach by the other.” The company said it “plans to pursue all legal options available to it.”