The latest battleground in Megan Thee Stallion’s war with her record label is a dispute over whether her manager – Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez – can be forced to sit for a deposition.
For months, the two sides have sparred over whether Perez must answer questions from lawyers for record label 1501 Certified Entertainment. They say she is “one of the most critical” witnesses in the ongoing case; Megan’s lawyers say they’re just trying to “harass” a busy executive who has little pertinent info.
In the latest filing on Tuesday, Megan’s attorneys said 1501’s arguments in the dispute are “entirely off base, bordering on nonsensical.” Perez doesn’t have any “unique or superior personal knowledge,” they said, and 1501’s lawyers should have sought such info from “alternative sources.”
The star rapper (real name Megan Pete) has been fighting with 1501 for more than two years, claiming the company duped the young artist into signing an “unconscionable” record deal in 2018 that was well-below industry standards. She says that when she signed a new management deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation in 2019, she got “real lawyers” who helped her see that the deal was “crazy.”
That core dispute has mushroomed into additional litigation, with both sides accusing the other of various forms of wrongdoing and claiming millions in damages. A judge ruled in December that the case will need to be decided by a jury trial; a date has not yet been set.
With both sides preparing to make their case, 1501 sought to have Perez sit for a deposition – meaning she would meet with the company’s lawyers and answer questions about Megan’s case under oath. But the rapper’s lawyers quickly threw a challenge flag in November, seeking a so-called protective order that would have shielded Perez from what they called “gamesmanship” by 1501.
They pointed to what’s known as the apex doctrine, which limits when high-ranking executives can be forced to give a deposition. (That’s the same rule that Spotify cited last year when it tried to shield CEO Daniel Ek from questioning in a copyright lawsuit.) Under the apex doctrine, busy top officials only need to testify when they have unique info that can’t be derived from other less burdensome sources.
“1501 does not seek relevant, admissible evidence because Perez does not have any,” Megan’s lawyers wrote in their November filing. “Rather, 1501 is intent on harassing Perez and disrupting her responsibilities as CEO of Roc Nation.”
The label quickly fired back in December, arguing that Perez had been “directly, personally, and substantially involved in the underlying facts of the lawsuit.” They claimed she’d had direct conversations about whether Megan’s 2021 Something for Thee Hotties counted as an “album” under her deal – a central dispute in the case. And they said Perez had personally negotiated one of Megan’s record contracts at issue in the lawsuit.
“Ms. Perez is trying to use her position at Roc Nation to prevent 1501 from obtaining otherwise discoverable information from her as a fact witness,” the label’s lawyers wrote. “1501 is not seeking discovery from Ms. Perez as CEO of Roc Nation. Rather, 1501 is seeking discovery from Ms. Perez as a fact witness.”
With Tuesday’s new filing from Megan’s lawyers, both sides have now fully made their arguments, and a judge will rule in the coming weeks or months on whether Perez must sit down with 1501’s lawyers. A rep for Megan and Roc Nation did not immediately return a request for comment on the deposition dispute.
Steve Zager, lead attorney for 1501, told Billboard his client was simply trying to obtain key information from an individual who was “intimately involved” in the events that led to litigation: “It is not harassment to try to serve a witness with knowledge of the facts of a case with a deposition subpoena where her lawyers have refused to accept service on her behalf.”
Read this week’s entire legal filing from Megan Thee Stallion’s lawyers here: