A Houston judge sided with Megan Thee Stallion on Wednesday in an early skirmish in her legal war with record label 1501 Certified Entertainment, refusing to grant the company a quick victory and ordering the case to instead be decided by a jury.
Megan has long been at odds with the label over a record deal she calls “unconscionable,” but the current battle was filed earlier this year over claims that 1501 was unfairly refusing to count her 2021 Something for Thee Hotties as an “album” to keep her locked into the deal for another release.
In September, 1501 asked a judge to quickly decide that dispute himself — arguing Megan’s contract had a clear definition of “album” and that Thee Hotties obviously didn’t meet it. Megan’s lawyers fought back, saying there were key disputes that need to be decided a jury and that the rapper must be “allowed her day in court.”
On Wednesday, Judge Robert Schaffer sided with Megan in that dispute, denying 1501’s motion and allowing the “album” question to proceed to a jury trial. The ruling came no written explanation, simply saying Schaffer was “of the opinion that the motion should be and hereby is denied in its entirety.” A trial date has not yet been set.
A rep for Megan declined to comment on the ruling. Steven Zager, lead attorney for 1501, told Billboard he disagreed with the judge’s decision but stressed that the ruling had not resolved any issues in either side’s favor.
The star rapper (real name Megan Pete) has been fighting with 1501 for more than two years now, claiming the company duped a young artist into signing an “unconscionable” record deal in 2018 that was well-below industry standards. She says that when she signed a new management deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation in 2019, she got “real lawyers” who helped her see that the deal was “crazy.”
She filed the current case in February, claiming 1501 had wrongly classified Thee Hotties as something less than an album — a key distinction, since she owes a set number of albums under the record deal. 1501 quickly countersued, arguing that Thee Hotties contained just only 29 minutes of original material and was obviously not an “album.”
The two sides then escalated the case last summer. Megan filed a new complaint seeking more than $1 million in damages over claims that 1501 had “systematically failed” to pay enough royalties. 1501 then fired back with new accusations of its own, claiming it’s actually Megan who owes “millions of dollars.”
With those other issues still pending, 1501 asked the judge in September for so-called summary judgment on the core dispute — meaning a quick ruling about whether Thee Hotties counted as an album. The company argued there was nothing ambiguous about the contract, and that the judge himself could decide the issue without further proceedings.
“There is no amount of discovery that will change the answer to that question,” 1501’s lawyers wrote at the time. “The court can compare the recording to the contractual requirements for an album and determine that ‘Something for Thee Hotties’ is not an album as a matter of law.”
Megan’s lawyers sharply disagreed. In a response this month, they cited supposed disputes over basic facts, like whether or not 1501 gave approval prior to the release of Thee Hotties, and said those disagreements would need to be sorted out by a jury, not a judge.
“Pete should be allowed her day in court to present evidence and testimony to the jury demonstrating that she has done all that was required of her in the delivery and release of her albums,” her lawyers wrote.
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