Ugly Legal Battle Between Soundgarden and Vicky Cornell Continues

Soundgarden lawsuit
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Soundgarden lawsuit
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Photo Credit: Matthew Straubmuller / CC by 2.0

Despite previous signs of an imminent settlement, the legal confrontation between Soundgarden and Vicky Cornell has taken an ugly turn, according to recent court filings.

Digital Music News obtained exclusive copies of said filings, which indicate that both sides of the issue are leaving no stone unturned in their high-stakes courtroom battle. Vicky Cornell and her legal team moved to strike down the reply issued by the Soundgarden defendants, claiming that it introduced new, previously unmentioned arguments pertaining to Vicky’s state of residence and alleged tax fraud.

The plaintiffs’ firmly worded, no-holds-barred filing opened by stating that the Soundgarden members “coo in public” about their late bandmate “yet conspire in private to harm Chris’ widow and minor children” by withholding money owed to Chris’s estate (the royalties at the case’s center) and “untenably claiming sole ownership to unreleased sound recordings” baring Chris’s vocals.

The allegations grew more serious from there, as Vicky and her legal team stated that the defendants “violated their ethical duties by falsely accusing Plaintiff of tax fraud” and “callously” worked to prompt a deposition from Vicky’s mother, “an elderly, at-risk individual,” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, Vicky Cornell and her legal team claimed to have suffered “sandbagging”—that is, an intentional change of course in the defendants’ reply and, later, amended reply, which allegedly introduced entirely new arguments and facets into the case. The plaintiffs also said that the defendants misrepresented evidence—“omitted material portions of the documents” —in the indicated reply and amended reply.

In terms of the aforementioned emphasis on Vicky Cornell’s state of residence, the filing alleges that the defendants “have sought to stray well beyond the issues of this case to make not-so-veiled threats” relating to Vicky’s potential tax issues. Florida doesn’t have an income tax, but New York State (where the Soundgarden side alleges Vicky may have resided) does.

Stated succinctly, Vicky’s team also alleges that Soundgarden has attempted to make her release the requested recordings by taking issue with her tax history.

Subsequently, U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia M. Otazo-Reyes opted not to strike down the defendants’ reply, but rather, to order Vicky Cornell and her legal team to submit written responses and “produce responsive documents” regarding the information the Soundgarden members requested. Additionally, Judge Otazo-Reyes prompted all involved parties to draft an “agreed confidentiality order” or, if an agreement cannot be reached, two differing confidentiality documents.

More as this long-running court case proceeds.