Bonner v. Westbound Records, Inc.

76 Ill. App. 3d 736, 31 Ill. Dec. 926, 394 N.E. 2d 1303 (1979)

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Bonner v. Westbound Records, Inc.

Illinois Appellate Court
76 Ill. App. 3d 736, 31 Ill. Dec. 926, 394 N.E. 2d 1303 (1979)

Facts

In March 1972, an unsuccessful band known as the Ohio Players signed a recording agreement with Westbound Records, Inc. (defendant) and with its publisher, Bridgeport Music, Inc. Under the contract, the group agreed to create records for Westbound Records exclusively for five years. Upon signing, Westbound Records gave the Ohio Players a $4,000 advance against future royalties. Though not required by the contract, during the first two years, Westbound Records provided the Ohio Players with $59,000 for expenses such as recording sessions, travel, and wages. Also, Westbound Records provided $22,000 to help the band pay income taxes and to settle a lawsuit. During the initial 24 months, Westbound Records released four singles and two of the band’s albums across the nation. One album attained great success, reaching gold status. Before the two-year anniversary of the five-year contract, the Ohio Players signed a contract to record exclusively for a company that was in competition with Westbound Records. Band member Leroy Bonner (plaintiff) and the Ohio Players filed an action seeking a declaratory judgment that its contract with Westbound Records was not valid. A circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the band on the finding that the contract lacked mutuality. The court explained that although the contract required the Ohio Players to create a certain number of recordings, Westbound Records was not similarly obligated to create any recordings at all. Westbound Records appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Simon, J.)

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