Corpus Christi Record Label, Recording Studio Awarded Attorneys’ Fees and Costs in Copyright Dispute
HOUSTON – June 3, 2019 – Greenberg Traurig, LLP helped secure a judgment for famed Hacienda Records. A Federal District Court in Texas has awarded $294,645 in attorneys’ fees and costs to firm client and Corpus Christi-based Hacienda Records, LP following a favorable ruling in a long-running copyright dispute brought against Hacienda by three band performers and four songwriters all specializing in Tejano music.
The case centered on claims of copyright infringement and related DMCA, fraud, RICO, misappropriation of name and likeness, breach of fiduciary duty, and contract claims by music performers Ruben Ramos, Hugo Guerrero, and Arturo Rene Serrata challenging Hacienda Records’ ownership of copyrights to the albums they recorded at the studio. Songwriters Adan Sanchez, Arnold Martinez, Jesse Salcedo, and Ruben Guanajuato or their representatives brought similar claims and sued for copyright infringement for Hacienda’s alleged use of their songs. Claimants lawsuit argued for statutory damages of over $15 million, and also sought declaratory relief. Hacienda Records denied the claims, and brought its own claim for ownership of the copyrights to its master sound recordings.
All of the Claimants’ claims were dismissed or denied by the District Court, and Hacienda Records obtained a declaratory judgment clarifying its ownership of the copyrights to its master sound recordings and compilations of the songs. The Claimants then appealed the District Court’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Hacienda Records prevailed on appeal as well.
As a prevailing party under the Copyright Act, Hacienda Records then sought recovery of its attorneys’ fees and costs against the Claimants and against their counsel David W. Showalter and the Showalter Law Firm for unreasonably multiplying the court proceedings and by vexatiously prosecuting a meritless case. Nearly five years after the original filing, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos found that they filed sham declarations, registered invalid copyrights and then refused to voluntarily cancel them, failed to produce key documents as requested, and refused to dismiss frivolous claims. The District Court ruled that the conduct exhibited by Claimants and their counsel was “inexcusable and must be deterred.”
“We are grateful for the court’s attention on this matter,” said Roland Garcia, a litigation shareholder in the Houston office of global law firm Greenberg Traurig and lead counsel for Hacienda Records.
“Corpus Christi is known by many as the epicenter of Tejano music, and we are excited that this matter has finally been resolved in favor of Hacienda Records,” said Rick Garcia, Executive Vice President and a Founder of Hacienda Records.
Hacienda Records was founded in 1979 in Corpus Christi, Texas, and has established itself among the premiere Latin record labels and recording studios in the industry.
The case is Hacienda Records, LP v. Ruben Ramos, et al., case number 2:14-cv-00019, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division.
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