Singer George Clinton Loses Legal Malpractice Appeal

Funkadelic singer and songwriter George Clinton lost another legal battle with his former Washington lawyers, Hendricks & Lewis, in a fee fight that began with litigation over copyrights to his music.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday upheld dismissal of Clinton’s  legal malpractice claims as well as negligent misrepresentation and fraudulent inducement claims.

Clinton hired H&L in 2005 to represent him in a lawsuit to recover ownership rights to some of his music recordings.  The relationship soured and ended in 2008, but subsequently H&L sought $1.5 million in unpaid legal fees.

Clinton failed to defend against the claims during arbitration and didn’t even attend the arbitration sessions, according to the court.  This ended with an award to H&L of $1.7 million.

Clinton later argued that only the fee dispute was subject to arbitration and he asked for more than $10 million in damages for legal malpractice, as well as the inducement and misrepresentation claims.

They were dismissed.  The inducement and misrepresentation allegations were subject to arbitration, according to the court’s unpublished decision.

And Clinton’s failure to raise them during arbitration bars raising them now, according to the court.

As for the malpractice, Clinton’s claim should have been brought within a year of the September 2008 trial court judgment in Los Angeles.

“It was nearly two years too late in light of California’s one-year statute of limitations for such claims,” the panel wrote.

The original litigation began over Clinton’s claims that his signature had been forged on various agreements over rights to his music and that he lost much of his control over his song rights.

Clinton is known for innovations in funk music, and creation of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic in the 1970s.  He has had over 40 R&B hit singles, with three number one songs.

Judges writing the order included Raymond Fisher, Ronald Gould and Morgan Christen.

Case: Clinton v. Hendricks & Lewis, No. 12-35791



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