Harry Shearer says he received $98 in total music royalties and $81 in merchandising income for Spinal Tap from entertainment giant Vivendi, thanks to the company's (extremely) creative accounting. He's been suing them for more than a year, and just scored an important court victory that will allow him to proceed, with US District Court Dolly Gee ruling that the case will go to trial.
Shearer is joined in his suit by co-creators Michael McKean and Rob Reiner, who have been temporarily excluded from the case due to a technicality they say they will correct. The total damages sought have swollen to $400,000,000. However, the judge has eliminated the fraud charge, which will likely reduce any award the creators receive.
Although the Spinal Tap lawsuit was allowed to continue, the judge did deliver a blow to the $400 million suit when she dismissed the co-creators' accusations that Vivendi committed fraud. "Although Plaintiffs have vaguely alleged the elements of a fraud claim, they have failed to plead sufficient facts," Gee wrote.
As the Hollywood Reporter notes, the fraud claim likely would have yielded the largest amount of monetary damages in the lawsuit, which claims that the Spinal Tap co-creators received just $81 in merchandising income and $98 in musical sales income over the last few decades from the cult 1984 mockumentary.
'Spinal Tap': Judge Allows $400 Million Lawsuit to Proceed
[Daniel Kreps/Rolling Stone]