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Meredith v. I Am Music, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

February 13, 2019

DIEDRA MEREDITH
v.
I AM MUSIC, LLC AND AMOS SINGLETON

          APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2018-03129, DIVISION "I-14" Honorable Piper D. Griffin, Judge.

          Richard P. Bullock BULLOCK & HAM, A PLC, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.

          Robert N. Aguiluz, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.

          Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins, Judge Paula A. Brown.

          SANDRA CABRINA JENKINS JUDGE.

         Defendants I Am Music, LLC ("IAM") and Amos Singleton (collectively, "Appellants") appeal the trial court's May 31, 2018 Judgment granting a preliminary injunction in favor of appellee Diedra Meredith, and ordering the Appellants to deliver to Ms. Meredith computer files containing 16 songs that were recorded at her live concert on September 16, 2017. The Judgment also ordered that Ms. Meredith furnish security for the issuance of the preliminary injunction in the amount of $1, 000.00. Appellants timely appealed. We find that the trial court erred in granting Ms. Meredith a mandatory injunction without a full evidentiary hearing where the standard of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On March 28, 2018, Ms. Meredith filed a verified Petition for Breach of Contract, Damages, and Preliminary and Permanent Injunction (the "Injunction Suit") against Appellants. Ms. Meredith asserted that she was a recording artist who performed under the name "Deepa Soul." Ms. Meredith alleged that on or about June 2016, she entered into a contract with Appellants whereby Ms. Meredith agreed to perform professional services for Appellants -- including but not limited to performing web-based services, branding/marketing, creating an online business plan, and producing a photo shoot -- in exchange for Appellants' agreement to assist in the production of Ms. Meredith's live album to be recorded at a concert at the Carver Theater in New Orleans.

         Ms. Meredith contends that, although she performed her agreed-upon services for Mr. Singleton, he failed to timely appear at the September 14, 2017 rehearsal for the live concert. She claims that because of Mr. Singleton's late appearance, the entire rehearsal could not be completed in time to record certain tracks to be used in the live recording. According to Ms. Meredith, she then retained the services of a sound engineer, Orlando Henry, to manage the recordings of her live concert on September 16, 2017. Ms. Meredith contends that Mr. Singleton also failed to timely appear at the live concert, causing a delay. Ms. Meredith states that after her live concert, she delivered the original recordings of the concert to Mr. Singleton so that he could assist in completing the production of her live album. She claims that on September 26, 2017, Mr. Singleton repudiated the contract and demanded payment for his services in producing the album. Ms. Meredith states that she had to retain two background singers, Melaney Batiste and Jai Reed, who recorded over-dub sessions with Mr. Singleton. According to Ms. Meredith, she requested that Mr. Singleton return the "Pro Tools HD" sessions to her so that she could complete recording. To avoid additional delay and damages, Ms. Meredith asked Mr. Singleton to "name his price." Mr. Singleton did not respond, and continued to work on the production of the album.

         In the Injunction Suit, Ms. Meredith seeks damages, as well as a "preliminary mandatory injunction ordering [Appellants] to turn over immediate possession of the Pro Tools HD sessions computer files of all 16 songs from the concert by Deepa Soul, including background vocals for Melaney Batiste and Jai Reid." Ms. Meredith also seeks a permanent injunction confirming the preliminary injunction and her ownership of the recordings.

         On April 13, 2018, the trial court signed an order setting a hearing on the preliminary injunction for May 11, 2018. The order stated that the matter would be heard upon the verified pleadings and/or supporting affidavits, pursuant to La. C.C.P. 3609. The trial court ordered Ms. Meredith to file her affidavits not later than 72 hours prior to the hearing, and ordered Appellants to file their affidavits not less than 24 hours prior to the hearing. None of the parties filed affidavits.

         Appellants were personally served with the Injunction Suit and the order setting a hearing on April 27, 2018. Appellants' attorney did not appear at the injunction hearing. The trial court advised Mr. Singleton, a non-attorney, that he could not represent IAM. Mr. Singleton was sworn in by the court, and testified on his own behalf. Although Ms. Meredith was present, she did not testify, relying on upon her verified petition.

         On May 31, 2018, the trial court granted a preliminary injunction in favor of Ms. Meredith, ordering Appellants to turn over the computer files to her within five days. When Appellants failed to do so, Ms. ...


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