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Judge rejects Carly Simon suit against Starbucks


A mug bearing a Starbucks logo is pictured next to coffee beans during a news conference in Tokyo April 13, 2010. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao
A mug bearing a Starbucks logo is pictured next to coffee beans during a news conference in Tokyo April 13, 2010. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

By Eriq Gardner

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A judge has shot down Carly Simon's lawsuit against Starbucks for bailing on the music business just five days before it was supposed to release her latest album.

Los Angeles District Court Judge George Wu has dismissed Simon's claims on summary judgment, ruling that Starbucks didn't violate any duties to the singer.

Simon argued in court papers last month that even though she didn't have a direct contract with Starbucks, she had one with Starbucks' main distributor, Hear Music, and therefore Starbucks had obligations to her. Simon contended that the coffee chain had been deceitful in a manner analogous to a real estate agent who sells a property to a buyer without disclosing material facts about its value. Essentially, Simon argued that companies have duties to disclose business deliberations that may materially effect those down on the food chain.

In his decision, Judge Wu says that even if Starbucks owed something to Simon, it's the singer who has the burden of proving that Starbucks made fraudulent misrepresentations or concealed facts that misled her. The written agreement between Hear Music and Simon made no representations regarding Starbucks' participation in the marketing or distribution of her album, and Judge Wu wanted a smoking gun.

"The Court views this as a problem of proof and not a problem of pleading," writes Wu, adding later in his opinion that Simon also didn't state a basis of relief since Starbucks didn't take any money or property for her.

Simon's lawsuit is dismissed, but she's given the opportunity to file an amended complaint by Wednesday. However, unless she's able to come up with new evidence about Starbucks' alleged deceit, this case could be over.

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