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Croce v. Kurnit
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
565 F. Supp. 884 (1982)
In 1968 singer Jim Croce and his wife, Ingrid Croce (plaintiff) entered into a recording contract with Cashman, Pistilli, & West (CP&W) (defendant); a publishing contract with Blendingwell Music, Inc. (Blendingwell) (defendant); and a personal-management contract, also with Blendingwell. Prior to signing, Jim and Ingrid were introduced to an attorney associated with CP&W, Philip Kurnit (defendant), who discussed the contractual terms with them. However, Jim and Ingrid were not represented by an attorney, nor did Kurnit advise them to secure legal representation. In 1970 Jim and Ingrid met with an attorney about the possibility of getting out of the contracts, whose terms favored management over the artist. Jim died in a plane crash in 1973. Kurnit represented Jim’s estate on Ingrid’s behalf in a wrongful-death action. Kurnit continued to represent Jim’s estate until 1976. However, in 1975 Kurnit represented CP&W in a dispute between CP&W and Ingrid over unreleased recordings by Jim. The estate was closed in 1977. In 1978 Ingrid brought suit against Kurnit; CP&W partners Tommy West (defendant) and Dennis Minogue, who went by Terry Cashman (defendant); CP&W itself; Blendingwell; Cashwest Productions, Inc. (defendant), to which rights in the recording and management contracts were assigned; and Blendingwell’s subsidiary Lifesong Records, Inc. (defendant). Breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and unconscionability were among the complaints. Kurnit cited a six-year statute of limitations as a defense.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Sweet, J.)
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