Award-winning hip-hop trio Migos has dismissed its legal malpractice lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in which it alleged that their attorney had represented them in negotiations and deals for years while maintaining a serious conflict of interest, depriving them of millions. The allegations in Migos’ complaint are examples of the kinds of claims that often arise against entertainment attorneys because of their unique professional relationships.
Role of entertainment counsel
Lawyers that represent musicians and other entertainers often act as the performers’ agents in negotiating recording, performance, distribution and merchandising deals and contracts that may be worth potentially millions of dollars. These clients must be able to fully trust and rely on their legal counsel to advocate vigorously for them and protect their interests without any conflicts of interest with other clients in the same band or transactions and without self-dealing.
Migos is a successful hip-hop group out of Georgia that has won several high-level awards for their music. In July 2020, they filed a complaint against their longtime attorney-agent Damien Granderson and his law firms. In the complaint, they describe an unequal relationship between the lawyer and the band members who had high-school educations and no knowledge of the legal, financial and business matters the attorney would handle on their behalf.
Migos lawsuit made these claims:
- Professional malpractice for representing both Migos and recording company Quality Control Music (QCM), signing Migos with QCM on terms favorable to QCM without disclosing the conflict and seeking a waiver to represent both parties with adverse interests, negotiating many other contracts involving the two parties to Migos’ legal and financial detriment, and drafting a merchandising agreement with a “perpetual, exclusive license” while knowing it was supposed to be a “more limited license” that forced Migos into expensive litigation
- Breach of fiduciary duty for concealing the conflict of interest, including in the recording contract a 5% commission for Granderson and his firms, and charging “excessive contingency-based fees” without disclosing the terms to Migos
- Violations of California Business & Professions Code sections for collecting contingency fees without proposing a written fee agreement
- Unjust enrichment for keeping contingency fees without a written fee agreement
- Declaratory relief asking the court to declare the parties’ rights concerning the contingency-fee dispute
According to Variety, a QCM founder denies the allegations. The Hollywood Reporter speculates that Migos may have dismissed the suit because the parties might have reached a settlement agreement.
Any artist, musician or other entertainer who questions whether their legal representative may have committed malpractice or breached their fiduciary duty of loyalty to them should speak with an experienced malpractice attorney to understand potential legal remedies.