Jury Says Third Eye Blind Owes $438K To Ex-Guitarist

Jury Says Third Eye Blind Owes $438K To Ex-GuitaristA California federal jury on Monday decided that Third Eye Blind owes its founding guitarist Anthony Fredianelli about $438,000, finding the rock band’s tour company breached an oral contract and cheated the guitarist out of tour revenues.

In a unanimous verdict, the jury decided that 3EB Touring Inc. was obligated to pay roughly $447,000 to the guitarist. The tour company won on its counterclaims alleging the guitarist made personal charges on a credit card intended to be used for the band’s benefit, but the jury said Fredianelli only owed $9,000 to 3EB Touring.

The guitarist argued that frontman Stephan Jenkins cheated him out of his fair share of the band’s touring royalties and funneled the money into other band projects instead. Fredianelli had sought an unspecified amount in damages over the touring revenues claims.

The jury determined Monday that neither Jenkins nor drummer Bradley Hargreaves personally breached an oral contract with Fredianelli.

The guitarist, who played with Third Eye Blind from 1999 until 2009, also claimed he was owed $8 million in royalties for co-writing “Semi-Charmed Life” and a handful of the band’s other top-grossing hits. A California federal judge tossed those claims in March after finding Fredianelli didn’t have a binding partnership contract with the band.

Fredianelli worked with Jenkins during some of the band’s earliest years but left before Third Eye Blind had its first big hit with “Semi-Charmed Life” from its self-titled 1997 album, according to court documents. He was replaced by guitarist Kevin Cadogan but returned as a “utility” guitarist who would sometimes play offstage until Cadogan was fired in 2000, court filings said.

Jenkins was an ego-driven vocalist who had trademarked the Third Eye Blind name for himself and believed he had unilateral authority to spend touring profits on whatever he wanted, a Fredianelli attorney argued during oral arguments earlier this month.

That money should have gone into his bandmates’ nest eggs, not toward the next album, and his decisions left the others feeling like hired hands, Fredianelli’s attorney, Joseph Singleton of Law Office of Joseph Singleton, said.

Singleton told the jury that after an initial probationary period, Fredianelli was recognized as a full member of Third Eye Blind and was to receive 25 percent of touring revenues. That bumped up to 33 percent when bassist Arion Salazar was booted but reverted to 25 percent when Jenkins decided he deserved a larger cut, Singleton said.

But Jenkins also used some of that money to fund future recordings and to pay for a trial against the band’s former manager, Eric Godtland, who was fired in 2008, Singleton said. Fredianelli, however, was a “cheerleader” backing the effort to fire Godtland and to record those albums, such as “Ursa Major,” Jenkins’ attorney, Mitchell Greenberg of Abbey Weitzenberg Warren & Emery, told the jury.

Jenkins didn’t use touring revenues for personal luxuries but put those funds into the business, Greenberg said.

Godtland later testified that Jenkins persuaded the band to fire Godtland so Jenkins could grab more power and money for himself.

In November 2006, Godtland sent an email to Third Eye Blind members saying that Jenkins felt he deserved half of the band’s touring and merchandising revenues because of his leadership role in the band, which ultimately led to Fredianelli’s share dropping from 33 to 25 percent, Hargreaves testified.

Godtland said he sent that email after preventing Jenkins from claiming that 50 percent stake outright.

The jury began deliberating on Friday.

Attorneys for Fredianelli, Jenkins and Hargreaves didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

Fredianelli is represented by Joseph William Singleton Jr. of the Law Office of Joseph W. Singleton.

Jenkins and Hargreaves are represented by Mitchell Bruce Greenberg and Stephanie Leigh Walker of Abbey Weitzenberg Warren & Emery.

The case is Anthony Fredianelli v. Stephan Jenkins et al., case number 3:11-cv-03232, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

–Additional reporting by Beth Winegarner. Editing by Philip Shea.

Joseph W. Singleton
Ph: (818) 999-1950
FAX: (818) 999-1955

Source: Kurt Orzeck

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