Fox Wins Appeals Court Victory in Infringement Lawsuit Against Rick Ross, Def Jam and Universal Music

January 12, 2021 – Press Releases

On January 11, 2021, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a copyright infringement lawsuit originally brought against Fox Rothschild clients Rick Ross, Def Jam and Universal Music Group in 2019.

Ross, Universal and Def Jam were represented by Leron Rogers and John Rose, attorneys in the firm’s nationwide Sports & Entertainment Law Department.

The plaintiff, previously designated a “vexatious litigant” — the legal term for a party who repeatedly files meritless claims solely to harass an adversary — argued that Ross had unlawfully “used the same ‘original works of authorship’” he included in one of his songs. The complaint, filed in 2019 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, included claims of copyright infringement, conversion, tortious interference with business relations and tortious interference with contract.

At District Court, Ross and his law firm filed a motion to dismiss. U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington granted the motion in August 2020, determining the lawsuit to be a “shotgun complaint,” and dismissing the matter for lack of personal jurisdiction, noting that Universal is based in Santa Monica, CA. The plaintiff appealed to U.S. District Court.

The Circuit Court affirmed the Middle District of Florida’s decision, holding that plaintiff failed to challenge any of the grounds on which the District Court based its dismissal.