A jury has awarded $25.2 million to a businessman who said he was owed royalties for several later models of a line of celebrity-endorsed headphones from Dr. Dre and a record producer.
The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for nearly three days
before finding in favor of plaintiff Steven Lamar, who sued Dr. Dre—whose real name is Andre Young—producer Jimmy Iovine and Beats Electronics for breach of contract, saying he brought the idea for the Beats by Dre headphones to the defendants in 2006 after they were designed by Robert Brunner, a renowned industrial designer.
Lamar sought more than $100 million. The jury found he was owed royalties for three of the 12 later models.
Lawyers gave their final arguments Friday.
“Beats is trying to make noise so loud it drowns out what you’re being asked to decide in this case,” plaintiff’s attorney Brian Melton told the panel. “There is nothing in the jury instructions to support the idea that you’re above the law if you’re famous.”
But defense attorney Arturo Gonzalez said the plain English of the contract showed Lamar was entitled to royalties only for the original Beats model and not the later versions.
“They all agreed it was a one-product deal,” Gonzales said.
Not long after they first began working together, the parties had a dispute and both Dre and Iovine sued Lamar for breaching contract. They reached a settlement in which Lamar gave up his rights in exchange for a 4-percent royalty on every headphone sold.
After the settlement, Beats released new headphone models and began paying a 2-percent royalty to Brunner until sometime in 2014, when Beats bought out Brunner’s interest. Dre, now 53, and the 65-year-old Iovine later sold Beats to Apple for $3 billion.