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

The long-running legal battle between Soundgarden and Vicky Cornell is raging on. The latest twist in the ugly courtroom showdown has seen Chris Cornell’s former bandmates drop their counterclaim concerning Vicky’s allegedly stealing funds from a charitable concert.

A copy of the dismissal’s corresponding filing was shared with Digital Music News this afternoon. And for additional background, the underlying lawsuit initiated back in December 2019, when Chris Cornell’s widow, Vicky, accused Soundgarden of withholding royalty payments (owed to her as the executor of Chris’s estate) in an effort to secure unreleased recordings that were in Chris’s possession at the time of his passing. The Seattle-based rock band’s remaining members have voiced their desire to release a seventh (and final) studio album, but this release appears to hinge on the recordings at the center of the case.

Throughout the months-long confrontation, Vicky Cornell has maintained that she is the rightful owner of said recordings, which she states her husband crafted without Soundgarden’s participation. The parties were reportedly close to putting the matter in the rearview earlier this year, though the talks ultimately fizzled out.

Then, in May, we reported that Soundgarden had fired back with a series of firmly worded counterclaims. In addition to alleging that Vicky Cornell was “extorting” them, the defendants suggested that she had been less than forthright with the funds raised by the “I Am a Highway” Chris Cornell charity concert, which they participated in for free. As part of the agreement, the show’s revenue was to support The Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation, but aside from one $640,000 donation, the defendants indicated that Vicky has “not identified the whereabouts or disposition of the remaining revenue.”

Now, Soundgarden has dropped the claims stemming from the alleged charity-concert theft. Per the aforementioned legal filing (which was recently submitted to a Florida federal court), Vicky Cornell’s counsel sent “financial information and documents” refuting the allegation the very day following the counterclaim’s submission.

Moreover, Vicky’s legal team described the claim as “shameful and objectively frivolous” in the letter, which also threatened to file a motion for “Rule 11” sanctions. Rule 11, Section B of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure details the circumstances and factual basis that should govern licensed lawyers’ initiating court proceedings.

Also worth noting is that in dismissing the charitable-concert counterclaims, Soundgarden lawyers expressed the opinion that the allegations “remain well-founded.” Reasons for the dismissal weren’t disclosed in the filing, but were “communicated to Counter-Defendants [Vicky Cornell].”

More as this develops.