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Record Company Awarded $3.2 Million in Dispute over George Benson Albums

May 26, 1988

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A jury has ruled that Warner Bros. Records must pay more than $3.2 million in damages to a rival record-maker for breaching an agreement with Grammy Award-winning jazz guitarist George Benson.

The suit, filed by Creed Taylor Inc., alleged that Warner Bros. earned more than $20 million in net profits from three albums that the guitarist made while he was obliged to make three records for CTI.

CTI alleged it was forced into bankruptcy proceedings because it lost Benson, who was the top recording artist on the CTI label when the agreement was made in 1975.

The 11-member Los Angeles County Superior Court jury agreed Wednesday that the agreement had been breached, but jurors appeared to be deadlocked in trying to determine whether Warner had acted with malice or fraud.

Judge Dion G. Morrow said he would declare a mistrial on that portion of the lawsuit if the jury was unable to reach a decision today.

Benson won three Grammy Awards in 1976, including two for songs from his Warner album, ″Breezin’,″ one of the biggest selling jazz albums of all time. He followed that with two other albums on the Warner label, ″In Flight″ and ″Weekend in L.A.″

Attorneys for Warner argued that the company’s net profits from the three albums amounted to only $10.8 million, and that even if CTI’s allegations were true, its profits would have been far less than that.

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