Musicians’ Lawyers Win $3 Million Payday

A federal judge has awarded the lawyers for soul group Sister Sledge and Ronee Blakley nearly $3 million in fees and costs in a class action royalties dispute that garnered the singers an $11.5 million settlement from Warner Music Group.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg found the $2.9 million fee award “fair and reasonable,” in an order posted Monday.  The award includes nearly $100,000 in expenses.

The settlement also included a $10,000 incentive award to each named plaintiff in the class action, Kathy Sledge Lightfood, Blakley, Gary Wright and former class representatives Debra Sledge, Joan Sledge and Kim Sledge Allen.

The lawsuit claimed that Warner underpaid artists for digital downloads, calculating the digital downloands of their music for MP3 files and ringtones as royalties on record sales, rather than as a license.

The five Sledge sisters sang the iconic “We are Family.”  The sisters were embroiled in an unrelated court dispute in New York in 2014 over allegations of misuse of the group’s name, but reached an agreement to settle their differences.

Case: In re: Warner Music Group Digital Downloads, No. 12-0559R


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