Washington state federal judge Michelle Peterson has found that SOUNDGARDEN are not withholding royalties from Chris Cornell’s widow Vicky Cornell, Billboard reports. The judge is recommending that two of Cornell’s claims against the band be tossed out due to lack of evidence.
Back in December of 2019, Vicky Cornell sued the surviving members of SOUNDGARDEN – guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron – claiming that they were “withholding hundreds of thousand of dollars in royalties” from the Cornell estate. Vicky assumed control over her late husband’s estate after he died back in 2017. She also claimed that the band’s manager, Rit Venerus, didn’t have her best interests at heart.
According to the Billboard report, judge Peterson found that Venerus is “not [Cornell’s] advisor,” and there is insufficient evidence to state that the band withheld money from Cornell or that they used the funds to pay for any legal fees involved the case.
In February of 2020, SOUNDGARDEN responded to Cornell’s lawsuit, stating that the unreleased songs she was trying to take ownership of belonged to the entire band, and not just the late frontman.
Also, SOUNDGARDEN stated that under Washington law, the band’s partnership owns all of the royalties until they vote to distribute them. They further claim that the singer was no longer part of that partnership when he died, so they are only required to give his widow a buyout offer for his part of the estate, which Peterson did not find.
The case will now be sent for review by Robert S. Lasnik, who will have the final say.