Judge Sides With Universal In Artists’ Vault Fire Lawsuit

In June of last year, The New York Times published an extensive report revealing new details about a fire that raged through Universal Studios way back in 2008. The fire was public knowledge, as was the damage to movie sets and film archives. But the warehouse also housed a whole lot of very historically significant masters from Universal Music Group, a detail that remained obscured until the Times report last year. A lot of major, iconic artists likely lost material, including, but very much not limited to, groups like Nirvana and R.E.M. and the Roots.

With the Times article suggesting that upwards of 500,000 recordings might have been lost, some artists and artists’ estates pursued legal action. Shortly after the news broke last June, a collection of the affected artists — including Soundgarden, Tupac Shakur’s estate, Hole, and Steve Earle — filed a suit alleging that UMG had hid the extent of the losses and destruction, and that they could have taken further steps to prevent the fire in the first place. The suit sought damages as a result.

As Rolling Stone reports, today UMG emerged victorious as Judge John A. Kronstadt filed a decision dismissing five of the six causes of action in the filing. “As we have said all along, the New York Times Magazine articles at the root of this litigation were stunning in their overstatement and inaccuracy,” a UMG representative claimed in a statement to Rolling Stone. Meanwhile, a lawyer for the plaintiffs had not replied to a request for comment.