Hole dropped from Universal warehouse fire lawsuit

Artists affected by the 2008 fire are suing the label for losses

Hole have been dropped from a lawsuit against Universal over a 2008 fire at a Hollywood warehouse that was said to have destroyed the masters of numerous artists.

The extent of the damage caused by the fire was only revealed earlier this year, prompting several artists to file a class-action lawsuit against the label.

Now, Hole, among others, have been removed from that lawsuit as a plaintiff after it was discovered their masters were not destroyed in the blaze.

In a statement, Universal said: “Over a month ago, without even knowing if the 2008 fire on the NBC/Universal Studios lot affected their clients, plaintiffs’ attorneys rushed to pursue meritless legal claims. UMG’s dedicated global team is actively working directly with our artists and their representatives to provide accurate information concerning the assets we have and what might have been lost in the fire.

“Even though our work is not yet complete, we have already determined that original masters for many of the artists named in the lawsuit were not lost in the 2008 fire. We will not be distracted from our focus on providing our artists with full transparency even as the plaintiffs’ attorneys continue to pursue these baseless claims.”

Universal fire

Credit: Getty Images

Ed McPherson, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, responded to Universal, saying: “Well, isn’t that great! After 11 years of assuring artists that basically nothing was lost in the fire, UMG is actually conducting an investigation to see what was lost in the fire. Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a daunting endeavor if (1) UMG had created an actual inventory of the masters that they were storing; and (2) UMG had enlisted its dedicated global team 11 years ago, when the fire destroyed the warehouse and everything in it.

“And as for UMG’s ‘full transparency,’ perhaps UMG should be asked: (1) why is the vast majority of the court file in the NBC litigation redacted; (2) why won’t you give the Plaintiffs any unredacted documents including those showing how your loss was evaluated; and (3) why have you filed a motion to stay all discovery in the case until November 4?”

Variety reports there are four artists left in the lawsuit – Soundgarden, Steve Earle, and the estates of Tom Petty and Tupac. It is currently unconfirmed whether the masters belonging to those acts were destroyed in the fire.

The lawsuit is seeking “50 percent of any settlement proceeds and insurance payments received by UMG for the loss of the Master Recordings, and 50 percent of any remaining loss of value not compensated by such settlement proceeds and insurance payments.” It claims Universal did not protect the masters, didn’t take “all reasonable steps to make sure they are not damaged, abused, destroyed, wasted, lost or stolen”, and didn’t “speak up immediately [when they saw] abuse or misuse” of the masters.

In June, the New York Times reported unheard tracks by the likes of Nirvana, R.E.M., Soundgarden, Beck, Janet Jackson, Nine Inch Nails and more had been destroyed in the fire, which raged through the Universal Studios lot for almost 24 hours on June 1, 2008.