Vicky Cornell filed a lawsuit against the remaining members of the band - Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd - and their business manager, Rit Venerus, in which she accused them of trying to force her to turn over seven recordings made by the rocker before his 2017 suicide by refusing to give his family money they were owed.
Vicky claimed in her suit that the recordings had been made in Chris' personal studio in Florida and there was no explicit agreement they were for Soundgarden songs, so he was the exclusive owner but she agreed to share them with the group, so long as they used a "trusted producer" and kept her informed about any possible marketing strategy. However, she alleged the 'Black Hole Sun' hitmakers brought in a different producer and told her they weren't willing to "go through any type of approval process," ostensibly in regards to the marketing strategy.
But in their response, Soundgarden claimed the unreleased recordings stem as far back as 2015 and denied Vicky's claim they have deliberately withheld royalties from her, stating no one is being paid at the moment and won't "until the Partnership, by vote of the Remaining Partners, formally elects to make such a distribution." They added in a statement to Rolling Stone: "We don't have possession of our own creative work."
The motion filed on Tuesday (04.02.20) pointed to interviews given by Chris and Kim that suggested Soundgarden were working on the songs from 2015 and detailed recording sessions over the next two years, up until April 2017, and cites additional evidence including "emails between the band members (including Cornell) exchanging audio files and lyrics, file metadata through Dropbox, and other tangible evidence such as full 'live' audio recordings of the band working on and performing the songs at its Seattle studios."
Citing text message exchanges, the band insisted Vicky often referred to the recordings as the "SG Files" and in a March 2017 email said Chris was travelling for the "SG record".
They also argued a lot of the material was recorded on tour, and in Seattle and New York City, not Florida, which highlighted the band's objection to Vicky filing her lawsuit in Florida.
They questioned her claim she is a resident in the state as most evidence allegedly shows the family primarily reside in New York City, "the overwhelming number of relevant events occurred in Washington," and that the "Defendants, most witnesses, and pertinent evidence are located in Washington."
Vicky's lawyer has slammed the band for their "blatant mischaracterisation of events".
Marty Singer, attorney for Vicky Cornell at the Cornell estate, said, "We obviously disagree with the band's blatant mischaracterisation of events, and stand by the truthful facts set forth in our complaint.
!It is disappointing that Chris' former band members have now sought to taint his legacy by making numerous false allegations, and that they continue to withhold substantial monies from his widow and minor children (despite using those same funds to pay for their own legal fees).
!The issue in this case is not who wrote the songs but rather who owns the specific recordings made solely by Chris while he resided in Florida.
!We are very confident that the Court will vindicate the rights of Chris' Estate, and that the case will properly remain in Florida, where Chris resided and recorded the songs that are now the lawful property of his Estate."