After being found liable for fraud, willful copyright infringement and wrongful interference with a contract in March, Island Def Jam and its CEO Lyor Cohen were ordered to pay a hefty price on Tuesday by a federal jury in New York.
A ruling came down awarding $132 million in damages to TVT Records, which had sued Cohen and the company for trying to stop the release of the long delayed album by Ja Rule and his original group, the Cash Money Click. TVT had sued for just $30 million (see [article id="1470748"]"Def Jam, Lyor Cohen Guilty Of Fraud; Ja Rule Fights Patrick 'Dirty Dancing' Swayze"[/article]).
"I am obviously extremely pleased with today's verdict," TVT president Steve Gottlieb said in a statement shortly after the court's edict was rendered. "The significance of this verdict can only be fully understood if one were to read the transcripts of the court proceedings, which reveal the systematic pattern of wrongdoings by Def Jam executives."
As part of the verdict, TVT will receive $108 million in punitive damages and $24 million in compensatory damages. Cohen himself was found liable for $56 million of that sum.
"I see this verdict as vindication for independent businessmen in every
field," Gottlieb continued. "The $108 million punitive award is a clear signal from the jury that corporate players in positions of overwhelming dominance will be held
accountable for their misdeeds."
Def Jam released a statement saying, "We are disappointed with the jury's verdict and we do not believe that it is supported by the facts or the law. We will immediately and vigorously appeal the verdict and are confident that it will not withstand the scrutiny of an appellate court."
As has been well documented, Rule formed CMC with fellow Queens, New York, natives Chris Black and 0-1 in 1994. Irv Gotti produced their records and guided their careers. The trio were originally signed to TVT and released a couple of singles in the mid-'90s, but they never put out an album because of Black's incarceration. By 1998, Gotti had moved on to Def Jam, where worked as an A&R rep. After bringing DMX and Jay-Z to the label, he was given his own imprint, Murder Inc. Ja would be his charter act.
CMC were supposed to release their reunion/debut LP last year, but the record was delayed several times before a legal battle between TVT and Def Jam ensued. Although songs were recorded, the record is still in limbo.
"The status of the album is still uncertain," TVT's trial lawyer Peter Haviland said Wednesday morning (May 7).