Atlanta, GA—A Fulton County Superior Court jury awarded the former manager of Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter/producer Percy Bady $120,000 in damages, including attorney’s fees, based on his failure to pay fees owed under a 1995 management contract. Dina Andrews v. Percy Bady (2013CV230964).
In 1995, Bady, who has been a prominent figure in gospel and R&B music for over 25 years, signed a management contract with Dina Andrews’ management company. Under the terms of the contract, Bady was required to pay management fees to Andrews “in perpetuity on all gross earnings due to, credited to, or received by [Bady] during the term and for all agreements, contracts or other activities entered into or for which negotiations began during the term and for any extensions, modifications or amendments thereof.”
According to testimony and documents in the case, the contract ended in 1998, and Andrews did not receive any payments thereafter. She initially filed a lawsuit against Bady in 2004 that was dismissed after she could not obtain personal service on him. The current lawsuit was filed in 2013. Because of the statute of limitations on contract claims, Andrews was limited solely to recovering any money owed her after May 2007.
Andrews testified that she was entitled to a fee of 20 percent of all royalties and similar fees received by Bady for songs covered under their agreement. To calculate the amounts owed her, she compiled a discography of songs written by Bady and determined on an individual basis which songs were covered under the agreement. She then obtained records from various companies that had made payments to Bady since 2007 and calculated the amounts paid Bady on each covered song and her 20 percent fee. Andrews also testified that Bady himself had never supplied her with any records of payments received by him or any other business records.
Andrews’ attorney, Kelli Hooper, introduced a spreadsheet showing the total amounts paid Bady and the amount Andrews believed was owed her, which was in excess of $70,000. Judge Robert McBurney admitted the spreadsheet into evidence over the defense’s objection.
When asked by Judge McBurney how she determined which songs were covered by the agreement, Andrews stated “It doesn’t make any difference when a song was created; if I made a deal for Mr. Bady to make new money … off that song, then I’m entitled to a commission for whatever that song makes from the time that I made the new deal for it.”
Andrews testified that one of the deals she negotiated for Bady was an agreement with the Harry Fox Agency to administer all the songs in Bady’s catalogue, which replaced an earlier agreement Bady had with a publishing company owned by his cousin, Terry Cummings. According to Andrews, under the terms of the agreement with Fox, Bady would retain all the royalties he received for his songs instead of having to share them with Cummings. The agreement with Fox covered a number of songs Bady wrote before he signed the management contract with Andrews. Royalties for those songs were included in Andrews’ calculations of the fees owed her.
Under cross examination by Bady’s attorney, Mario Breedlove, Andrews admitted that she was asking for royalties on some songs written years before Bady signed the contract with her. She also acknowledged that some of the payments shown in the records that were made to Bady in 2007 may have been barred by the statute of limitations.
Percy Bady testified on cross examination by Hooper. He admitted that he was obligated to pay moneys to Andrews under the terms of his management contract and that he had not done so. When asked to explain why he had not made any payments to Andrews, Bady stated: “I believe there were songs that don’t apply to the agreement; there were songs that were written long before Ms. Andrews started managing me... I wrote songs out of my own experience; it had nothing to do with an agreement with anybody… It’s unfortunate that we’re here, but to speak to the question that was asked, I don’t feel the amount that’s being asked in terms of damages is fair.”
Bady also disagreed with Andrews’ claim that she negotiated an agreement with the Harry Fox Agency. ““It’s paperwork; it’s not like you’re sitting here actually negotiating something; it’s a real simple process… I still don’t see why that means she should get money for it, especially if [a song] was created in 1980.”
Under direct examination by his attorney Mario Breedlove, Bady listed a number of songs he believed were not covered under the agreement with Andrews. These included the popular gospel song “Hold Up the Light,” written in 1988 by Bady and BeBe Winans, and recorded by BeBe and CeCe Winans and Whitney Houston.
Bady also testified that he had not produced any records in the case because they were destroyed in a flood in the office in his recording studio where he kept them. As far as his arrangement with Fox, Bady said that he was ““moving to another phase of my life and career” and that it made sense to do so with his own publishing company rather than to continue to work with Cummings.
In her closing statement, Kelli Hooper stated that it made sense to structure the management contract based on a percentage of Bady’s royalties because that was how he made his money. ”It’s very simple. Mr. Bady writes songs. The earnings that are covered under the management contract; the way that he gets earnings is from selling songs. The contract …that Mr. Bady has said over and over again that he knows that he breached, says specifically that my client is to receive compensation for the gross earnings, his earnings from what he does, he writes songs and produces songs and sells songs …he earns money from that. My client as his manager is entitled to compensation for that.”
Hooper also pointed out that income on a song is generated when it is exploited in the marketplace, not when it is written. She added that, based on agreements Andrews procured and negotiated, Bady was making money today on income streams from sources like YouTube and Sirius that didn’t even exist when Andrews managed him. However, the only way Bady was able to make that money, according to Hooper, is because of Andrews’ efforts on his behalf.
In his closing statement, Mario Breedlove characterized Andrews’ claims as an overreach and an attempt to “do a catchall as to Mr. Bady’s catalogue that he created back to the 1980s and all the way going ahead.” He also termed the numbers provided by Andrews in her spreadsheet “grossly inaccurate.” Breedlove also questioned why Andrews’ forensic accountant, whom she admitted helped her review the records in the case, did not testify.
Breedlove reminded the jury that, as plaintiff, Andrews had the burden of proof and that Bady had the right to demand that she prove each song was covered under the contract and that Andrews hadn’t met that burden. Breedlove added that Bady acknowledged his responsibility, “You’ve got one party that’s saying … I owe this company some money but it’s not the amount that she’s saying. And I’m going to be upfront about it and say I made some songs, they made some money, but let’s be fair in terms of what is actually owed.”
The jury returned a verdict in Andrews’ favor in the amount of $78,672 for breach of contract and $41,328 in attorney’s fees.
Andrews’ attorney Kelli Hopper said she was very happy with the jury verdict and pleased that her client had been vindicated. She believed that the jury was moved by the fact that Bady admitted several times in his testimony that he owed Andrews money but made no steps to pay her. Representatives for the defense were unavailable for comment prior to the publication of this article.
Steve Silver can be reached at [email protected].
Attorneys involved in the case include Kelli Hooper of Atlanta's Hooper and Honore for Dina Andrews and Mario Breedlove of Atlanta's Breedlove Law Firm for Percy Bady.
Watch on-demand video of the trial as soon as it becomes available.