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In Jay-Z NFT Case Dash and Roc-a-Fella Aim to Settle But Judge Has Questions, New Draft Due

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon  Podcast
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 21 – Roc-A-Fella Records on June 18, 2021 filed a lawsuit against Damon Dash, to try to enjoin him from selling the copyright to Jay-Z's debut album Reasonable Doubt.   Photo here. Order to Show Cause on Patreon here.

On June 21, 2021 Roc-A-Fella Records argued for and won a Temporary Restraining Order, in a proceeding before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge John P. Cronan in which Dash did not show up. Inner City Press live tweeted it here, podcast here and below.

Jump a year forward and on June 21, 2022 Judge Cronan held another conference, and Inner City Press again covered it, here:

Judge Cronan: I have some concerns about the proposed settlement.

Alex Spiro for Roc-a-Fella: We can do back and redraft it.

Judge Cronan: How much time do you want to work on it?

Spiro: We'll submit it this week.

  Inner City Press will stay on the case.

Back in August 2021, the complaint was amended to add as a defendant, along with Dash, GoDigital Records LLC which when told that Live Nation would administer Reasonable Doubt on YouTube insisted it has a valid contract in place. A summons has been issued.

 On July 1 in an in-person proceeding, Dash's lawyer asked that the preliminary injunction be limited to the album, Reasonable Doubt. Roc-A-Fella Records' counsel, still on the case, mocked Dash for claiming selling a hologram of the LCC could raise $30 million, adding that Dash has been arrested for failure to pay child support. Dash's lawyer called it character assassination.

The TRO was extended to July 2, with PI language due by 5 pm July 1. Short podcast here.

  After 5 pm, and first reported by Inner City Press, Roc-A-Fella and Dash filed an agreement [Proposed] Order, banning sale of Reasonable Doubt but not the sale of Dash's 1/3 interest in RAF.  Full proposed order on Patreon here.

  Now, the schedule: This case is to be tried to a jury. Counsel for the parties have conferred and their best estimate of the length of trial is 3-5 days. Motions due by 8/4/2021. Deposition due by 12/17/2021. Fact Discovery due by 11/2/2021. Expert Discovery due by 12/17/2021. Discovery due by 12/17/2021.

  Previously, after a Temporary Restraining Order was issued, now on June 25 Dash has responded with an affidavit that all that he was trying to sell was his one-third interest in Rockafella Records. He says Jay-Z underbid on his interest so he reached out to SuperFarm Foundation to assist in a potential NFT auction. Full declaration on Patreon here.

 On July 16 Dash tried on an emergency basis to stop a meeting at 5 pm to change Roc-A-Fella Records' bylaws, but was denied. Inner City Press live tweeted it here:

Judge Cronan: Are you seeking a Preliminary Injunction as well as a Temporary Restraining Order? Dash's lawyer: Our papers speak to both. But TRO for now. There's a meeting set for 5 pm, the stated purpose is to adopt bylaws to restrict transfer of shares...

 Dash's lawyer: The restriction, we contend, would violate New York law. Only Mr. Dash as the initial and sole director -- [Dash's lawyer Natraj Bhushan has a phone that it breaking in and out. Court reporter says she can't hear. This is no way to try to get a TRO]

Dash's lawyer: Under the proposed bylaws, Mr. Dash could be unreasonably restrained from selling his shares. And they would indemnify Mr. Carter against the lawsuit by Mr. Dash. Mr. Dash is the initial and sole director, but they're trying to cancel that.

 Judge Cronan: What's the corporate structure of Roc-A-Fella Records? Dash's lawyer:  In January 1996, Mr. Dash was made the sole director. And that's how it still is.  Judge Cronan: Roc-A-Fella, do you agree?

Roc-A-Fella's lawyer: All 3 shareholders are directors Judge Cronan: It seems there is no disagreement that there are three shareholders, and two agreed to today's meeting. Why is that contrary to New York law? Dash's lawyer: The meeting it was done at was unauthorized. And it was objected to.

Judge Cronan: What would be the irreparable injury if the meeting goes forward, in about an hour? Couldn't the outcome be undone?  Dash's lawyer: If this Court lets the meeting go forward, then we couldn't challenge it. If bylaws are changed they could do anything

 Roc-A-Fella's lawyer: There's been zero showing of likelihood of success. There was a meeting 25 days ago, and they've known since then there'd be another meeting. They waited - the court should be skeptical.

Roc-A-Fella's lawyer: They haven't hit either prong. Judge Cronan: Why did Mr. Dash wait until now to make this emergency application?

Dash's lawyer: My client has been investigating. It is difficult to get documents from the state. We answered at 6 am then this

 Dash's lawyer: At the first meeting they didn't notice the second. That was done a week ago. Roc-A-Fella's lawyer: They have had notice with a copy of the bylaws for 10 days. They waited. There's nothing urgent here. Judge Cronan: I will deny the application for a TRO and preliminary injunctions. The high bar has not been met. I'll cite, Salinger 607 F 3d 68 (2d Cir 2010).  Two of the 3 shareholders voted to hold the meeting this afternoon.

Judge Cronan:  I'm not pursuaded Jay-Z can't call a meeting of the shareholders. If the shareholders in about an hour pass the bylaws, Mr. Dash could challenge them. Yes, for time he could be subject to needing approval to sell his shares. But it's not irreparable

 Judge Cronan: I'll issue an order soon setting a pre-trial conference. Anything more? Roc-A-Feller's lawyer: No. Dash's lawyer: No. Adjourned.

The case is Roc-A-Fella Records, Inc. v. Dash, 21-cv-5411 (Cronan)


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