Etana’s Lawsuit Against VP Partially Dismissed Again, Judge Says No More Amendments

Reggae songstress Etana has suffered another setback in the lawsuit she filed against her former label VP Records and Greensleeves Publishing Ltd (GPL), days after publicly slamming an employee of the company.

The case concerns contracts that the Grammy-nominated singer signed with the companies, including a 2007 recording agreement under which she released albums between the years 2007 and 2014.  The matter was partially dismissed in December last year, but Etana was granted the right to amend her complaint, which she did twice—in January and April 2023.

In the latest version of the complaint, filed in a New York District Court, she reduced her claims from fourteen to six, encompassing three breach of contract claims, and individual claims for copyright infringement, fraud, and accounting. On May 30, VP and GPL sought to dismiss the trio of non-contract claims, and a segment of Etana’s first breach of contract claim.

On Sunday (August 13), Judge Gregory H. Woods ruled in favor of VP Records on the three non-contract claims.

According to his 23-page ruling, which DancehallMag obtained on Monday, Woods determined that the copyright and fraud claims were restricted by three-year and six-year statute limitations, respectively. Additionally, he concurred with VP that the Copyright Act overshadowed the accounting claim.

However, Judge Woods acknowledged the validity of a royalty claim tied to Etana’s 2007 recording contract, allowing it to remain a part of the ongoing case.

In their motion to dismiss, VP Records had contended that a specific section of Etana’s amended allegations introduced a new claim, which they argued went beyond the scope of her granted amendment rights. This section claimed that when VP incorporated 11 tracks, including I Am Not Afraid and Wrong Address, into two of Etana’s albums, they also charged her royalty account for associated expenses. Etana claimed these songs weren’t produced under the recording agreement’s terms and that these “improper” charges adversely affected her overall royalties on the two albums.

Judge Woods interpreted the section as clarification of the existing breach of contract claim, rather than a new allegation.

Etana, who is now representing herself in the case, won’t have the chance to amend her complaint further, per court documents seen by DancehallMag.

The Judge commented, “Because the dismissed claims are either time-barred or preempted, it would be futile to permit further amendment of the complaint, as additional facts would not change the Court’s decision to dismiss these claims.”

A pre-trial conference is scheduled for August 28.  

Etana’s relationship with VP Records began with her debut album The Strong One (2008), which featured her breakout single Wrong Address, her biggest solo hit I Am Not Afraid, and her hit collab with Alborosie, Blessing.  Under VP, she also released Free Expressions (2011), Better Tomorrow (2013), and I Rise (2014) before moving on to her own label, Free Mind Music.   

Last Thursday, the singer lashed out at producer Richard ‘Shams’ Browne, an A&R at VP, after he approached her asking to record a Christmas song for the company.

Browne, who was seemingly unaware of the ongoing lawsuit, later clarified that his request had been made without knowledge or instruction from the company.

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