Carly Simon refiles Starbucks lawsuit

Singer resumes legal action against Starbucks' record label after judge dismisses case

Carly Simon isn't taking no for an answer, refiling a claim against Starbucks that was dismissed by a judge in April. The You're So Vain singer is accusing her former record company, owned by the coffee chain, of insufficiently promoting 2008's This Kind of Love.

Simon first filed the claim in October, blaming Starbucks' Hear Music imprint for failing to promote what was to be her retirement album. Besides the record's disappointing sales, the label essentially shut down operations around the time of This Kind of Love's release. "You can't sell a product that's not in stores," Simon complained. In its first year, the album sold about 124,000 copies – around a third of the sales of her 2005 LP, Moonlight Serenade.

In April, the case was heard in court. But the Los Angeles district court judge wasn't convinced by Simon's lawyers, dismissing the file in a summary judgment. Simon was not able to prove that the responsibilities of Hear Music extended to the label's parent company, Starbucks, with whom she had no contract. While Simon complained that she should have been told about the coffee giants' intention to withdraw from Hear Music, the judge ruled that Starbucks had no obligation to share its business plans.

In the amended lawsuit, Simon's lawyer, David Boies, points to alleged misrepresentations by Starbucks, citing particular conversations with its executives. According to these papers, Starbucks vice president Alan Mintz promised Simon that if she signed to Hear Music, the coffee-shop chain would "aggressively promote" and distribute her album. The singer's marketing plan also explicitly references the record's placement in Starbucks outlets.

The coffee-shop giant claims that it's a tempest in a teacup. Hear Music's failures, it says, cannot be traced back to the parent company; the "corporate veil" can only be pierced in extraordinary circumstances. Furthermore, in one contract, Simon reportedly waived the right to hold Starbucks accountable for her record label's shortcomings. The case continues.

Simon is currently promoting Never Been Gone, an acoustic album that revisits her greatest hits.


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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