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.:: Tupac Shakur Law suits

Tupac Shakur Law suits

Tupac Shakur

.:: Lawsuits

Tupac Shakur Law suits


Tupac Shakur, incarcerated before his birth and murdered before his 26th birthday, spent much of his too-short life outside the law. His tattoos proclaimed his philosophy: "Outlaw" on his left forearm, "Thug Life" across his torso. His death has changed all that.

Shakur lives on in the staid world of courtrooms and counter suits, law offices and legal papers. His posthumous alter ego is a white Manhattan attorney - Richard Fischbein, co-executor of the Shakur estate. Even Shakur's unreleased music - more than 150 songs, valued at $100 million - is tied up in a court battle. Fischbein says he expects more "vultures" to "come out of the woodwork." "Tupac has an estate," Fischbein explains bluntly. "He's dead. People see a payday." Fischbein and Afeni Shakur, who gave birth to the slain rapper one month after her acquittal in a 1971 conspiracy trial, became co-executors on Oct. 23, 1996. Since then, the flow of lawsuits has been as hard and relentless as Tupac's lyrics:

A $10 million lawsuit by C. DeLores Tucker, a virulent opponent of gangsta rap. Tucker, who once labeled Shakur's music "pornographic smut," claimed lyrics on Tupac's 5 million-selling album "All Eyez on Me" were so demeaning that it affected her sex life. Two songs derisively mentioned Tucker by name. On one, "How Do U Want It," Shakur rapped: "DeLores Tucker, you'se a motherfucker/Instead of trying to help a nigga, you destroy a brother." Tucker did not returns calls to her Washington office. But in her lawsuit, she alleged Shakur had caused her "great humiliation, mental pain and suffering" - and damaged her sexual relationship with her husband, William.

A November 1996 court award of $16.6 million to Jacquelyn McNealey, who was shot and partially paralyzed at a 1993 Shakur concert in Pine Bluff, Ark. Fischbein is vigorously trying to set aside this judgment; the estate's Arkansas court papers carried the names of 17 attorneys, and asserted that Shakur was never even notified of this lawsuit.

A $7.1 million suit by Death Row Records, demanding reimbursement for cash advances that Shakur allegedly used for cars, houses, jewelry and other expenses. The estate filed a 41- page counter suit, accusing Death Row of looting $50 million from Shakur to maintain the extravagant lifestyles of label head Marion "Suge" Knight and other executives. More important than cash is control of at least two unreleased Shakur CDs and 152 additional unreleased songs. Death Row currently has custody of the master tapes. A Death Row spokesman and label attorney David Kenner both declined to comment on the legal fight; Knight is serving a nine-year jail term on a probation violation.

A successful lawsuit by the estate to gain merchandising rights to Shakur's image. Previously, it received nothing from the lucrative sales of Shakur T-shirts, hats and other memorabilia. There remain a handful of "smaller, irrelevant" lawsuits - including a libel suit stemming from another lyric on Shakur's last album, "The Don Killuminati" - that are unresolved, Fischbein acknowledges. What the plaintiffs lined up at the Tupac trough may not know is that the rapper, whose last two albums sold more than 8 million copies, left very little behind. Tupac's bank account contained $150,000 when he died at 4:03 p.m. on Sept. 13, 1996, six days after he was shot on the Las Vegas strip. "He owned no real estate," the estate claimed in court papers. "He owned no stocks and bonds. He owned two cars." Where was the money? The estate's lawsuit against Death Row alleges the label should have provided him with $12 million royalties on the album "All Eyez on Me" and a $5 million advance on his next album. Instead, with Shakur locked up by a handwritten three-page contract that he'd signed in prison, Death Row refused to provide Shakur with any financial accounting, the estate says. Even worse, Death Row allegedly charged Shakur for items that the rapper never owned or knew about: $115,000 for jewelry, $120,000 in rent for a Malibu home, $23,857 for Porsche repairs. Shakur didn't own a Porsche; Knight did. While Fischbein is bemused by some of the lawsuits - "C. DeLores Tucker? Who ever expected that?" - he takes the estate very seriously. And he expects the battles to rage for years. Afeni Shakur, he says, is "very, very tough and single-minded.", "She never expected her son to die before she did," Fischbein says. "She's never going to give in on any of this stuff- never. From her point of view, this could go on forever."

The latest to file suit: Orlando Anderson, a reputed gang member who was once a suspect in the rapper's shooting death in Las Vegas last September. Anderson has filed a lawsuit alleging that Shakur and several Death Row Records employees assaulted him in the lobby of Las Vegas's MGM Grand Hotel just hours before the best-selling rapper was shot. No arrests have been made in Shakur's death, and police said witnesses to the drive-by have been uncooperative. But Anderson will have to wait in line.

The DeLores Tucker case has since been dismissed by a judge who ruled the case had no merit and therefore threw it out. Chalk one up for the home team. Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson has since been murdered, the lawyer and family is continuing on with the suit (can you say GREED), and the cops have charged the man they believe is responsible unlike they did in Tupac's case. The suit from the paralyzed woman has been settled in the lower hundred thousand dollar range and she has now been paid from the promoter, the arena, and Tupac's estate (Tupac's estate didn't end up paying as the decision was later overruled). How the Death Row suit is going, I don't know. Neither do I know how THEY have the nerve to sue besides it being a strategy by the lawyers to get Afeni to drop her suit against them.

Tupac's Father Cut Out of Inheritance A contentious lawsuit filed by the rapper's father, William Garland, seeking 50 percent of Tupac's estate. Afeni Shakur angrily charged that Garland was a gold-digger who ignored his son for 18 years; Garland blamed her nomadic lifestyle for making it impossible to find Tupac. "I'm the only person in here who lost somebody," Ms. Shakur snapped in early August. "He don't even know my son's birthday." Garland's lawyer, Leonard Birdsong, rips Ms. Shakur as "an egomaniac" upset by publicity for Tupac's father. He also mentions her past crack addiction and alcohol problems; Tupac had said those woes forced him to leave his mother's house at age 17. Fischbein dismisses Garland as "a deadbeat dad" who gave his son "$500 and a bag of peanuts over the course of his life." Birdsong indignantly charges Fischbein with "rewriting history to vilify my client." Garland only filed suit after Ms. Shakur twice submitted legal papers saying Tupac's father was dead, Garland says. This parental struggle could give birth to another lawsuit. If he wins, Garland wants to be named the estate's co-executor.

The Result - William Garland, Tupac Shakur's father, was cut out of his son's estate Tuesday after a judge decided that his contributions to the rapper's upbringing were "minuscule." Garland, a trucker living in New Jersey, wanted half of Shakur's multimillion-dollar estate, but his mother, Afeni, claimed that he was absent for the majority of Tupac's upbringing. "This is a big defeat for deadbeat dads," attorney Richard Fischbein, who co-administrates the Shakur estate, said. "Being the designated sperm isn't enough." Testimony revealed that Garland had actually only seen Tupac for fifteen of his twenty-five years, and that his actual contributions to young Tupac's welfare included about $820, a bag of peanuts, and a ticket to the film Rollerball. His lawyer, Michael Reinis, is hoping to appeal, saying that the decision was based upon a law that came into effect twenty years after Shakur's birth.

Tupac's Estate Sued by Jeweler A Rodeo Drive jeweler has leveled a $93,000 lawsuit against the estate of the late Tupac Shakur, alleging that the rapper custom ordered more than $80,000 worth of jewelry, but died before he could pay for it. In a suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday, R&,S Antiques say Shakur bought a white gold bracelet encrusted with diamonds for $38,000, as well as a gold chain to go with a Versace medallion for another $45,000, which was sent to Germany to be lengthened. Before it arrived back in the U.S., however, Shakur was shot in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996. He died six days later, and the jewelry was put into a safe and never paid for. The suit names Shakur's mother, Afeni, as well as a New York attorney, Richard S. Fischbein, as defendants.

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