Judge – No Evidence Soundgarden Are Withholding Royalties From Vicky Cornell
Washington state federal judge Michelle Peterson has found that Soundgarden are not withholding royalties from Chris Cornell's widow Vicky Cornell, Billboard reports. The judge is recommending that two of Cornell's claims against the band be tossed out due to lack of evidence.
In December of 2019, Cornell sued the surviving members of Soundgarden — Kim Thayil, Ben Shepherd and Matt Cameron — claiming that they were “withholding hundreds of thousand of dollars in royalties” and that the band's manager Rit Venerus wasn't looking out for her best interests. Cornell assumed control over her husband's estate when he died in 2017.
According to the Billboard report, Peterson found that Venerus is "not [Cornell's] advisor," there is insufficient evidence to state that the band withheld money from Cornell or that they used the funds to pay for any legal fees involved the case.
In February of 2020, Soundgarden responded to Cornell's lawsuit, stating that the unreleased songs she was trying to take ownership of belonged to the entire band, and not just the late frontman.
Elsewhere in their response, Soundgarden stated that under Washington law, the band's partnership owns all of the royalties until they vote to distribute them. They further claim that the singer was no longer part of that partnership when he died, so they are only required to give his widow a buyout offer for his part of the estate, which Peterson did not find.
The case will now be sent for review by Robert S. Lasnik, who will have the final say.
That's only part of the story, though. Cornell sued Soundgarden once again in February of this year over the buyout price they offered for her husband's share of the estate, which she deemed non-satisfactory. The band made a counter statement regarding the matter, and concluded that they will be finishing the final album they worked on with the late vocalist.