Singer Geoff Tate — who was fired from the Seattle progressive rock band QUEENSRŸCHE last year after fronting it for three decades — was granted a continuance until January 27, 2014 in his legal battle with his former bandmates over the rights to the group’s name.
Tate and his wife, Susan, QUEENSRŸCHE’s former manager, filed a lawsuit in June 2012 asking the judge to award them the rights to the band’s name in exchange for Tate paying Eddie Jackson (bass), Michael Wilton (guitar) and Scott Rockenfield (drums) the fair market value for their interests in the QUEENSRŸCHE companies. Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson filed a countersuit against the Tates in which they accused Geoff of creative obstruction and violent behavior, and Susan Tate of questionable business practices.
In their August 9 motion to continue the trial date — originally scheduled for November 18 — and amend the case schedule, the Tates requested “a minimum 180-day continuance to provide sufficient time for the parties to continue active settlement negotiations without incurring substantial trial preparation costs and, if such efforts fail, to provide sufficient time to complete discovery and properly prepare for what will be a very lengthy trial.” The Tates added that “80 potential witnesses” have been identified for trial and they estimated that the parties will need to collectively take 20 to 40 depositions.
Further complicating the scheduling of depositions is the fact that Tate’s former bandmates will be traveling for most of September and will be unavailable for depositions. Said the Tates in their motion, which can be viewed on the The Breakdown Room web site: “There simply is not enough time to properly prepare for trial. Discovery is incomplete. Even if the parties only depose a fraction of the witnesses identified, doing so will take 20 to 30 days. Many of these witnesses are located out of state. The facts that underlie this dispute span nearly 30 years. Trial could take three to four weeks with 20 to 40 witnesses.”
On August 16, Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson filed an opposition to the Tates‘ motion to continue the trial date and amend the case schedule, claiming that “any challenges [the Tates] face [in preparing for the trial] are 100% the result of their failure to properly prosecute their case and as such should not be able to delay the resolution of this matter to [Tate’s former bandmates’] detriment or [Tate’s] advantage.”
“From October 2012 until April 2013 there was nearly no activity in the case,” Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson wrote. “In April 2013, [the Tates] propounded interrogatories and requests for production on [Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson]. Responses were supplied in May. Not until July 31, 2013, did [the Tates] raise any objections to the adequacy of the responses to that discovery, more than two months after said responses were served. Other than two related subpoenas for documents, [the Tates] have engaged in no other discovery.” Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson also accused Geoff Tate of “continu[ing] to harm the QUEENSRŸCHE brand” since the Tates’ original lawsuit was filed in June 2012. “The newest self-titled QUEENSRŸCHE CD release by the [Todd La Torre-fronted version of the band] entered the U.S. charts at #23 and continues to get 9-out-of-10-star reviews and is still selling very well on a weekly basis around the globe,” Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson wrote. “In comparison, Geoff Tate released his own QUEENSRŸCHE CD in April of this year titled ‘Frequency Unknown‘ and depicted as F.U. on the cover, which entered the charts at #82, received very bad reviews around the world, and has slowed to almost no more weekly sales. [The Todd La Torre-fronted version of QUEENSRŸCHE’s] new CD even outperformed the last two CDs of them with Geoff Tate, selling more in a month than the ‘Dedicated to Chaos‘ CD has since its release in 2010, and charting much better than both that album and the previous one, ‘American Soldier’. Thus, the return to the classic sound [Tate’s former] bandmates have made with the new CD and live shows has been met with overwhelming success.”
They added: “Geoff Tate also chose very poorly in hiring live musicians that have shown that they are not capable of representing the correct performances of the QUEENSRŸCHE music legacy, and he was constantly replacing them. He has been offering his low-quality version of QUEENSRŸCHE to the promoters at a much reduced rate, as low as $10,000 per night, when, in fact, [his former] bandmates have done their best to keep the authorized QUEENSRŸCHE at an average of well over $20,000 per show this entire year. However, this becomes harder and harder with Geoff Tate’s sub-par band and cut-rate pricing that continues to be damaging to the QUEENSRŸCHE brand and legacy no matter who ultimately wins control after trial.”
In a brand new interview with The Oakland Press, Rockenfield said said that “negotiations are ongoing between Tate and the singer’s former bandmates and “there’s still time for anything to happen between now and [the start of the trial].”
“I think our confidence is pretty high,” Scott said. “There’s a lot of legal stuff you have to deal with, but we just feel good and look at it as a light at the end of the tunnel and keep playing shows and making music. I think when you do that, the right decision will be made in time.”