Led Zeppelin's publishing company Warner/Chappell Music is seeking over $613,000 to offset legal fees incurred in the band's "Stairway to Heaven" copyright infringement lawsuit in June. A Los Angeles jury ruled unanimously in favor of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page in the lawsuit brought forth by the estate of Spirit's Randy (California) Wolfe, which claimed that the IV classic plagiarized from Spirit's "Taurus."
In documents filed to a federal court Thursday, Warner/Chappell cited "extensive and ongoing litigation misconduct" on behalf of plaintiff Michael Skidmore, the trustee for Spirit's Randy (California) Wolfe's estate, and especially the plaintiff's counsel, Francis Malofiy, who lodged over 100 sustained objections over the course of the bizarre weeklong trial.
According to Courthouse News, Warner/Chappell is seeking reparation of their legal fees in order to "encourage and reward the litigation of a meritorious defense." "Defendants — faced with plaintiff's ongoing misconduct and objectively unreasonable positions — triumphed against plaintiff's claims for permanent injunctive relief that would have deprived the public of the 'Stairway to Heaven' musical composition, recordings and sheet music," Warner-Chappell wrote.
In their Thursday filing, Warner/Chappell also pinpointed some of the " flagrantly unprofessional and offensive manner" practices Malofiy used to argue his case, including editing a photo of Plant and Spirit's Mark Andes, which was "altered to omit two people and create the false impression" that the two musicians were talking, as well as misstating the actual date of a John Paul Jones interview.
Malofiy was subsequently suspended for misconduct following his actions during another copyright infringement case, this one involving Usher's "Bad Girl."
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Malofiy responded to Warner/Chappell's claims as well as defended the merits of the lawsuit. "The lawsuit was objectively reasonable, and we are confident that any appeal will be successful. However, I will say that their allegations of misconduct are meritless and over the top. Anyone who was in the courtroom knows that there was no misconduct at the trial. To suggest otherwise is simply bad reporting," Malofiy said.
"Believe me, Plaintiff [Skidmore] has its grievances with the deplorable conduct of defense counsel throughout this case. Defendants' [Page and Plant] motion merely laundry lists nearly every disagreement the parties had in this lawsuit, and claim that these disagreements are misconduct. It is a particularly insidious form of argument, as it misrepresents Plaintiff's counsel good faith advocacy for his client. Basically, Defendant are throwing everything against the wall, no matter how flimsy, hoping that something sticks."
As for Thursday's filing, Malofiy said, "The Defendants' motion is meritless. The case was objectively reasonable. That is why their summary judgment motion was denied and it went to trial. Their completely false allegations of misconduct do nothing to change these facts."