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Fredianelli v. Jenkins - 931 F. Supp. 2d 1001 (N.D. Cal. 2013)

Rule:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) provides that summary judgment shall be rendered "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

Facts:

From 1993 to 1994, plaintiff Anthony Fredianelli served as the guitar player of the band Third Eye Blind. When Fredianelli was no longer in the Band, defendant Stephen Jenkins formed three corporate entities in relation to the Band. In 2000, plaintiff Fredianelli returned and became the lead guitarist of the Band; he earned $1750 per with with $1000 weekly retainer for weeks when there was no work. At the time plaintiff was hired, the Band’s bass player told him that after a two-year probationary period, he would officially be a Band member, and participate as a full-fledged member and co-owner of the Band. When plaintiff became a full-fledged member of the Band, he ceased receiving the weekly retainer he had received since joining the Band in 2000 and began to receive 25% of touring revenue. However, contrary to the Agreement, plaintiff did not begin to have a role in the decision-making process of the Band. Furthermore, plaintiff did not initially share in the merchandising royalties contrary to the Agreement. Plaintiff Fredianelli filed this action against Defendants Stephan Jenkins; Bradley Hargreaves; Third Eye Blind, Inc.; 3EB Touring, Inc.; and Stephan Jenkins Productions, Inc. alleging six causes of action: (1) breach of contract; (2) reasonable value of services performed (Plaintiff's "quantum meruit" claim); (3) constructive trust; (4) accounting; (5) declaratory relief regarding ownership of copyrights; and (6) declaratory relief regarding ownership of trademarks. Defendants sought summary judgment on each cause of action.

Issue:

Were defendants entitled to summary judgment?

Answer:

Yes, except to the extent that the breach of contract was based on plaintiff’s not receiving his full share of net touring revenues irrespective of ownership.

Conclusion:

As to the plaintiff’s first cause of action, the Court held that the plaintiff was not able to proffer evidence sufficient to conclude that an agreement or a partnership existed between him and defendants. However, the Court held that defendants had made admissions that would support an action for breach of contract to the extent it related to plaintiff’s right to share of the net touring revenue. The Court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment as to the plaintiff’s second cause of action since the courts have recognized quantum meruit claims where the actual agreement was not for a certain or readily ascertainable figure. In the case at bar, plaintiff was entitled to a share of an ascertainable portion of profits. As to plaintiff’s third cause of action, the Court noted that a cause of action for constructive trust was based on breach of fiduciary duty of another; in the present case, such fiduciary relationship was not demonstrated. The Court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff’s fourth cause of action since the entire action for accounting was premised on plaintiff being an “equal co-owner” of the Band; however, it was established that plaintiff was never an equal co-owner of the Band. Similarly, the Court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff’s fifth and sixth causes of action as the plaintiff has submitted no evidence or argument that he was entitled to ownership of certain of the Band’s songs.

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