Sony, EMI battling over top exec

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Sony, EMI battling over top exec

Wed May 13, 2009 @ 02:35PM PST

By Eriq Gardner


With industry-wide layoffs dominating the news, we suppose it's nice to see two entertainment companies battling for the services of a top executive.

Last week, EMI Music promoted Ronn Werre to chief operating officer for its North America business. Before the ink on the press release could dry, an aggrieved Sony Music filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court. 

Here's the complaint.

Werre achieved early success at the company working on releases by Norah Jones, Coldplay, Gorillaz, and Joss Stone. He made a series of promotions in the marketing division up to president.

According to Sony's lawsuit, Werre entered into negotiations with Sony early this year to join the company as a top executive. Sony claims that in February, Werre signed a non-exclusive contract with Sony to be president of the company's commercial music group. Werre was to receive a minimum of $1 million in salary for three years, commencing in April, 2010, when his contract with EMI expired. 

Sony was so happy with its new hire that it says it terminated the employment of the individual who Werre would be replacing. Oops.

Werre later chose to stay with EMI and apparently got a nice new job and promotion. Now Sony says that Werre "never intended to fulfill his contractual obligations to Sony Music, but was merely using his contract with Sony Music as a stalking horse to solicit a more lucrative contract from EMI with enhanced job responsibilities."

Now Sony demands financial restitution from EMI and Werre for breach of contract, fraud, breach of fair dealing, and tortious interference.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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