The notice of voluntary dismissal was filed Friday by Soundgarden and Tom Whalley, who represents the Tupac estate. It states that the two parties “hereby dismiss without prejudice their individual claims, and withdraw as a putative class representative.” However, it goes on to note that, “These two plaintiffs reserve their rights to proceed in this matter as absent class members.”
A representative for UMG declined to comment.
A lawyer for the class action plaintiffs did not immediately return a request for comment.
The decision of Soundgarden and the Tupac estate to drop out of the suit leaves just two of the five original plaintiffs listed as representatives for the class: Tom Petty’s widow, Jane Petty, and Steve Earle. The fifth original representative, Hole, left the suit last August “based upon UMG’s representation that none of Hole’s masters were destroyed.” Soundgarden was also previously informed in 2015 that it had lost some stereo master recordings related to Badmotorfinger in the fire.
The class-action suit was filed last June following a New York Times Magazine report that alleged the damages sustained in the 2008 fire were much more extensive than originally reported. Although full details and numbers are still unknown, a February filing in the lawsuit included a letter from UMG that stated recordings, including some original master tapes, belonging to 19 artists — such as Elton John, Nirvana, Sheryl Crow, Beck and R. E.M. — were lost or damaged in the fire. In many cases, though, UMG stated that it had back-ups and safety copies.
UMG has maintained that the damages were not that severe, while also embarking on a massive archival project to ensure artists know whether or not their recordings were affected. In a recent memo, head archivist Pat Kraus, said they’ve received 392 inquiries, reviewed more than 15,000 assets and responded 209 of those artists. “So far,” the memo stated, “0.1 percent of those assets might have been original recordings affected by the fire.”