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Compiled by Sara Perry

It’s been awhile since I last updated the legal affairs of The Doors. On June 1, 2005 the Los Angeles Superior Court granted access to some of the documents filed in this case for a fee. What follows is a synopsis of two of those documents.

After over two years of trial proceedings, May 9 2005, Judge Gregory W. Alarcon issued a “Proposed Statement Of Decision.” John Densmore’s case and the case filed by the Estate were consolidated on June 28, 2004 therefore the “Proposed Statement Of Decision” contains the proposed rulings on both of these cases and the ruling on the Manzarek and Krieger counter-suit.

The “Proposed Statement Of Decision” was filed on May 9 2005 followed by defendants Manzarek and Krieger filing an “Objection Document” on May 24, 2005 opposing the “Proposed Statement Of Decision.”. This matter was granted a hearing on June 16, 2005. Following the Status Hearing the “Proposed Statement Of Decision” was submitted as evident of court documents filed in Case No. BC289730.

The 40 page “Proposed Statement Of Decision” contains explanations for each of the plaintiffs and defendants charges giving reason why the court came to render their decisions on these cases. Within these explanations there were quotes from selected individuals who testified in the trial.

According to the documents The Doors didn't have a written agreement between themselves from 1966 - 1971 it was an oral agreement up until a retroactive partnership agreement was draw up and executed by all four Doors in 1971.

On January 5 1971 The Doors attorney was instructed to draw up a partnership agreement that was to be retroactive back to 1966 and all four Doors signed it. This document was effective from January 1 1966 and was terminated October 1, 1971 of which a new agreement was drawn up that included the three surviving Doors and subsequently the Estate.

It is my understanding that the October 1 1971 document stayed in effect, (pursuant to what it says in the Proposed Statement) until April 18 2003 because it had never been terminated. In addition to the retro 1966-1971 Agreement on March 8 1971 all four Doors signed an Administration Agreement "in anticipation of Morrison leaving the United States." This agreement "authorized their business manager Greene an exclusive authority to enter into licensing agreements for music of the Doors. However, to avoid what had happened in 1969 with regard to the Buick incident, Greene was empowered to sign agreements for television and radio commercials ONLY after receiving the written approval of all four partners" (page 11 item #10 of Proposed Statement of Decision). “It is not indicated that Greene ever got permission for any commercial use of The Doors music.”

An Amendment to the 1966-1971 Partnership Agreement was made March 11, 1971. The amendment included in Page 11 Item #11 of the “Proposed Statement Of Decision”, "sets forth a specific provision prohibiting the use of the name, The Doors, by any partner upon termination of the partnership for any reason other than the death of a partner. The amendment was prompted by a concern that after L.A. Woman was delivered to Elektra, Morrison might leave the band and form another band in Europe using the name 'The Doors.' Manzarek testified that he signed the one-page amendment when it was prepared but did not read it and did not understand its purpose. Somer testified that he recalled some concern about the band splintering, and that the amendment, as well as all of the band's agreements, were explained to the band members before they signed." The court found Mr. "Somers' testimony to be credible and accepts it as true."

The Manzarek and Krieger Cross-Complaint was filed due to Densmore’s lack of agreement for two lucrative business opportunities. Cadillac offered 15 million for the use of Break On Through and Apple Computers offered 4 million dollars for the use of a Doors song not specified. At the time of the offers Krieger and Densmore rejected and Manzarek sought to pair up with the Estates thinking their influence could sway the non-participates into agreeing to the deals. Krieger and Densmore prevailed and the companies were denied usage of The Doors songs for commercial purposes. In addition, Densmore wrote an article in the Nation Magazine which appeared July 8, 2002, subsequently Rolling Stone Magazine republished the article. It was Manzarek and Krieger’s arguement that the Nation article was detrimental and “corporate America” would shun seeking the use of the music of The Doors for commercials.”

There was considerable confusion between Densmore and defendants, Manzarek and Krieger as to what the Partnership Agreement(s) set forth in terms and conditions. Densmore claimed that the band decisions were of unanimous vote. If anyone band member vetoed a proposition then the proposition was then denied by all. During the proceedings of this trial and before the judge Manzarek and Krieger testified that they understood the documents to be “majority rule.”

Page 36-38 Item #5 of Proposed Statement Of Decision


”This equitable cause of action was not presented to the jury. Manzarek and Krieger seek a declaration from the Court that 1) the rule of governance among them and Densmore is one of “majority rule” (although it is unclear as to what partnership this declaration is sought), 2) as between them and Densmore, Manzarek and Krieger may not tour and promote themselves as The Doors or The Doors of the 21st Century, 3) said names are not likely to confuse consumers, 4) no partner of a partnership can use his voice arbitrarily to frustrate the purposes of a partnership, “and/or” 5) the partners never had a meeting of the minds as to the provisions of the Old Doors and New Doors partnership agreements.

Plaintiffs urge that the rule is one of unanimity. Manzarek and Krieger urge that it is “majority rule.” The conduct of the parties and the testimony of the witness support the conclusion that unanimity is the rule of governance in these partnerships. The “Original Old Doors” 1966 written partnership agreement and the DMC 1969 written partnership agreement each provide that unanimity was the rule while Jim Morrison was alive. This is reconfirmed by the Administration Agreement entered into with Greene. This rule was extended to the 1971 New Doors Partnership agreement after Morrison died. Evidence that the unanimity requirement was the actual practice is found by the Buick incident, and later during the Cadillac proposal through the conduct of Manzarek seeking to change the rule to a “majority rule” as reflected in his voice mail to Stiffelman.

The only suggestion to the contrary about “majority rule” comes from the defendants’ post litigation statements, but their position is belied by their own words prior to litigation. On the commentary track of The Doors Collection DVD, Manzarek admits that any member of The Doors had a veto, a statement repeated in the liner notes of his own spoken word compact disc Myth & Reality:

“The Doors all had veto power. If one guy didn’t want to do something it wasn’t done. That’s the way it always worked out with The Doors. It was a four way split of all The Doors’ money, totally democratic with veto power.”

The court rejects the assertion that this requirement was not known to Manzarek and Krieger or that the written agreements did not accurately reflect their understanding of governance. First, these were college-educated men represented by legal counsel when the written agreements were signed.”

As discussed above, as for the written 1971 partnership agreement among Densmore, Manzarek and Krieger, the rule of unanimity was plainly set forth in paragraph 6 of the agreement. This court already has found that the use of the name The Doors of the 21st Century constituted a violation of Business and Profession Code Section 17500. The name 21st Century Doors is not a named used by Manzarek and Krieger, except as a name given to Tommy Gear to prepare the logos later rejected by Manzarek late in 2002.. In any event, had Manzarek and Krieger used that name instead of The Doors of the 21st Century, the decision of the court would be the same.

As for the alleged “right to tour” as The Doors or The Doors of the 21st Century, the court has ruled previously through the granting of an injunction that Manzarek and Krieger have no such right. As for the finding that the names are not likely to confuse, the court has already ruled on that issue in the false advertising claim and through the granting of the injunction.

The court declines to set forth a declaration whether or not a partner can use his vote in bad faith, arbitrary, without good cause, to frustrate the purposes of the partnership. While correct, this rule of law has no application in this dispute, and this court finds no such evidence of the described conduct to merit such an advisory opinion regarding potential future conduct.

As for the final matter that the parties had no meeting of the minds when the Old Doors and New Doors written partnership agreements were entered into, the court finds no competent evidence to support such a conclusion. Manzarek’s argument that neither he nor Krieger read the agreements is unavailing and belied by the testimony of Somer, which the court accepts as true. The court rules in favor of Densmore.”

Many more explanations are given within this one document known as the “Proposed Statement Of Decision.” In addition there are many issues of argument contained in the defendants “Objection Document” that are too numerous and drawn out to include in this article. I leave it up to those of you who are interested to pursue reading the documentation that accompanies these cases.

It is relevant to understand that while these cases were brought before a jury there were equitable issues that would be decided on by the court. “At the conclusion of the trial, the parties attempted to agree on special jury instructions which would assist the court in subsequently determining the equitable issues. After considering counsel’s arguments and the extended duration of the trial, the court decided a general verdict was appropriate.” (Page 3)

On September 27 the jury reached their verdicts awarding NO damages to either of the parties. On May 9, the court submitted the following determinations: (Page 38-40):

Section VIII. CURRENT DISPOSITION AND ORDERS OF THE COURT. On the basis if the findings, conclusions and analysis of The Court set forth above .The Court makes the following orders……

1.With respect to the two complaints of Densmore/estates respectively the Court makes the following orders:

a) That defendants Manzarek & Krieger and those acting in concert with them including agents, representatives and employees be permanently enjoined from performing, touring, promoting their band, recording and otherwise holding themselves out as The Doors, The Doors of the 21st century or any other name that includes the words The Doors without written consent of all the partners of Old Doors deemed to be Krieger, Manzarek, Densmore, Morrison’s and Courson’s.

b) All profits earned by Manzarek and Krieger from touring, performing and recording as The Doors or The Doors of the 21st century (including merchandising income) be immediately divested of defendants and turned over to plaintiff Densmore and Old Doors to be disbursed as follows:

1. One third of all profits from January 1st 2003 to April 18th 2003 be delivered to Densmore.

2. All profits (as defined above) after April 18th be turned over to Old Doors partnership.

c) That (thirty) 30 days from the date of this Statement Of Decision defendants are to appear and present testimony and evidence demonstrating all profits earned by defendants from and after June 30 2003 and all profits earned by defendants prior to April 18 2003.

d) Following the hearing ordered above the Court will issue an additional order reflecting the proper distribution of any additional money that remains to be turned over if any.

Manzarek and Krieger shall be and hereby are permanently enjoined from using the name, likeness, voice or image of Jim Morrison to promote their band or concerts.

With regards to cross complaint of Manzarek and Krieger The Court orders that said cross complainants take nothing as a result of their claims.

All causes brought by Densmore against Astbury have been decided by the jury or The Court in favor of Astbury.

All causes brought by the Estates against Astbury have been decided by the jury or The Court in favor of Astbury.

All causes brought by Densmore against Doors Touring Inc., have been decided by the jury or The Court in favor of Doors Touring Inc.

This Statement of Decision shall be placed and recorded in the court files of each of the two cases consolidated for trial.

Counsel for Plaintiffs in each case shall prepare a proposed form of judgement and submit it to The Court within 10 days of the Final Statement of Decision.

Dated May____,2005
Hon. Gregory W. Alarcon
Superior Court Judge

In conclusion a final decision will be forthcoming August 31 2005 in a “Non-Appearance (Case Review)" for "CONFIRMATION THAT A RULING IS ISSUED" If the court decides to finalize the proposed statement defendants can file for an appeal of which could take months to schedule a hearing. If the court modifies or over turns the proposed statement in anyway there will be ramifications to both the plaintiffs and defendants. We now await the final decision.

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