Third Eye Blind Guitarist Wins $440,000 in Band Contract Dispute

Third Eye Blind’s former lead guitarist Tony Fredianelli won nearly $440,000 in damages from the band’s touring company in a long-running contract dispute with his former band mates over a share of touring income.

The verdict late Monday by a federal jury of eight in San Francisco is far less than the original $8 million in fees and royalties he sought.

The jury deliberated less than two days before awarding Fredianelli $447,000 in damages against 3EB Touring, Inc., but then subtracted $9,200 Fredianelli ran up in personal charges on a band credit card.

Jurors rejected claims that lead singer Stephan Jenkins and drummer Bradley Hargreaves breached an oral contract with Fredianelli during their touring stints between 2003 and 2009, when he was fired from the band.  The jurors found only 3EB Touring, Inc. breached the oral contract.

Fredianelli has maintained that from 2003 to 2009 he was a shareholder in the band, receiving 25 percent until 2007 when his share went up to 33 percent.  He was fired from the band in 2009.

But he contends Jenkins and Hargreaves added inappropriate expenses that depleted the band’s gross income, which came largely from touring through those years.  That had the effect of cutting his share, according to Fredianelli.

Fredianelli disputed legal fees charged to the band, payments for equipment and alleged rental of a recording studio owned by Jenkins.  And the band’s deals were oral agreements, not written contracts, making the dispute even testier.

During closing arguments Jenkins’ attorney Mitchell Greenberg said Fredianelli never protested the expenses when they occurred, it was only later, when he filed the lawsuit.

Third Eye Blind was known as an alternative rock band in the 1990s, with Fredianelli the band’s original lead guitarist in 1993.  He claims to be co-author of many of the band’s early hits, including “Semi-Charmed Life” and “Motorcycle Drive By” and “How’s It Going to Be,” from their first album, which sold six million copies.  All the song’s reached the Top 10 of U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

Royalty claims were dismissed from the case prior to trial.  The only issue was breach of contract for payments from touring income.

During the 2000s the band made almost all its money from touring and little from recording and record sales, with long gaps between issuing new music.

The trial has lasted two weeks.

The three former colleagues, though sitting within a few feet of each other at opposing tables, made sure not to leave the courtroom together and never spoke.

Case:  Fredianelli v. Jenkins, No. 11-cv-3232EMC

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