Jay-Z emerges victorious in case by Parlux Fragrances, but loses his counter-claim for unpaid royalties
Steven T. Lowe
On November 10, 2021, a jury in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, rejected all claims brought by a perfume company including its claim for $68 million in damages for breach of contract. Parlux alleged that hip-hop mogul Jay-Z failed to adequately promote a cologne that incorporated his name in it, “Gold Jay-Z.” After a short two hours of deliberation, jurors found Jay-Z not liable for any of the damages sought by Parlux. Additionally, the panel also rejected Jay-Z’s $6 million countersuits for alleged unpaid royalties.
Nearly six years after Parlux filed the case in New York, State Supreme Court Justice Andrew Borrok stated “You failed to prove your case, and they failed to prove their case,” (after hearing the verdict). Parlux claimed that Jay-Z breached a contract with Parlux by failing to make promotional appearances at the November 2013 launch of the fragrance or otherwise do what was necessary to make the brand profitable.
Jay-Z’s counsel framed the case as a misunderstanding. However, Parlux countered that the defense was “engaged in smoke and mirrors distraction,” claiming Jay-Z simply “disapproved and disappeared” when he couldn’t get what he wanted and destroyed evidence after Parlux filed suit.
Jay-Z was called to the stand by Parlux. During cross-examination, Jay-Z repeatedly corrected Parlux’s attorney and suggested that he was misleading the jury with his “little lawyer tricks,” drawing laughter from the jury.
By all indications, it was quite a lively trial. Journalists reported the jurors were using their cell phones during the trial, a blatant violation of court rules. Additionally, the juror’s internet usage led Parlux’s counsel to accuse Jay-Z’s team of waging a disinformation campaign directed to the jury through online media outlets. Parlux’s counsel said Jay-Z had “planted” articles in the press that claimed the FBI told Jay-Z to delete his emails, a claim unsupported by any evidence in the case. The judge was very concerned about the journalist’s reports of the jurors’ cell phone usage. Nonetheless, after jurors reached a verdict, Parlux made a last-minute protest that the verdict was “inconsistent” and asked the jury to reconsider the verdict. In the end, Justice Borrok said “The verdict is not inconsistent as it relates to the different burdens on each side.”
Parlux Fragrances is represented by Anthony J. Viola, Andre K. Cizmarik, Kara M. Cormier and Whitney M. Costin of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky, and Popeo PC.
Jay-Z and his company are represented by Alex Spiro, Ellyde R. Thompson, Cory D. Struble, Allison L. McGuire, and Phillip B. Jobe of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP.
The case is Parlux Fragrances LLC et al. v. S. Carter Enterprises LLC et al., case number 650403/2016, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York.
* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is an entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The firm has extensive experience handling cases involving breach of contract, having provided top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.