Artist News Business News Legal

Lady A fights to keep legal action against Lady A in Washington

By | Published on Wednesday 4 November 2020

Lady A

Blues singer Lady A is fighting to keep alive her lawsuit filed with the federal courts in Washington state against the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum. The band is seeking to have that case dismissed entirely or alternatively moved to Tennessee, where they filed a preemptive case against her.

Lady Antebellum announced in June that they were changing their name, due to the word antebellum’s associations with the slave trade. The new name they chose was Lady A, a nickname they said that many fans already used. However, they were quickly criticised by blues singer Anita White, who has been performing under that name for more than 20 years.

Initial discussions attempting to resolve the issue appeared positive, with an agreement struck that would allow both parties to use the name and see the band offer a certain amount of career support to White.

However, Lady A the singer wasn’t happy with the written agreement that came out of those discussions. She then hired new legal representation which wrote an alternative agreement, allegedly including a $10 million pay off for their client – significantly more than the originally agreed $10,000.

Having received that proposal, Lady A the band went legal in July, arguing that they own the trademark in the name and have done so for a decade.

Lady A the singer then filed her own lawsuit in September, arguing that she had “accrued common law rights” in the name simply by using it for so long.

The problem for White now is that she did not sue first. Under US court rules, where two suits are very similar, the later-filed case is generally transferred to the district where the first was filed.

However, White argues that this should not happen in her case because the band’s legal filing was “an improper anticipatory” lawsuit filed in order to try to deny the singer “her choice of forum”. The band, when attempting to have White’s case dismissed or transferred last month, argued that her filing was “an obvious attempt at forum shopping”.

In a new filing, White’s attorneys argue: “As Lady Antebellum acknowledges, Ms White has moved to dismiss the Tennessee action for lack of personal jurisdiction and on the ground that it is an improper anticipatory lawsuit. If Ms White is successful on these arguments, which is likely, then there effectively is no first-filed action to justify dismissal”.

The band are yet to respond to this latest motion, although it seems unlikely that they will support it.