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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ind. Decisions - More on: "Judges deal double defeat to songwriter who sued Lake tourism bureau"

Updating this ILB entry from August 5th, Steve Schmadeke of the Chicago Tribune has a lengthy story, dated Aug. 30th, headed "A short telephone jingle leads to a lawsuit tangle." It begins:

What started out as a sweet little ditty to promote tourism in Lake County, Ind., has turned into a long, bitter copyright battle -- one that has piled up thousands of dollars in lawyers' fees and inundated the courts, leaving one frazzled federal judge to quote rapper DMX: "Y'all gonna make me lose my mind. ... Y'all gonna make me lose my cool!"

The legal dispute has its roots in an obscure 1999 doo-wop song, performed by a Northwest Indiana group, that was used as on-hold music for a time by the Lake County tourism bureau. Though one of the song's co-authors licensed the song for free, the other says she is the sole author and never lent her permission to the tourism board. She has been fighting it in court since leaving the band.

The case has spawned at least three lawsuits, thousands of dollars in judge-ordered sanctions against the woman's attorneys, a three-day trial, estimated legal fees of more than $500,000, reams of paperwork and a subpoena issued to a federal judge. The Indiana woman who brought the lawsuit, Illinois Toll Highway Authority clerk Cheryl Janky, has lost her house, as six years of legal fees mounted, according to court papers and one of her attorneys

"This is one of those cases that gives lawyers a bad name," wrote U.S. District Judge Philip P. Simon in the opening line of a 2008 order.

Attorneys on the case say they see no end in sight, even after a split ruling this month by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago threw out a $100,000 jury verdict against the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau, now called the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority.

Attorneys for Janky, formerly of the doo-wop group Stormy Weather, have appealed the decision and are asking that the entire circuit of 15 judges hear the case, which a bevy of fed-up judges has already remarked has a "long and mostly ridiculous history." A lawsuit in Lake County, Ind., court also remains open.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 29, 2009 02:33 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions