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Hacienda Records awarded attorney’s fees and costs in long-running copyright dispute

Hacienda Records awarded attorney's fees and costs in a long-running copyright lawsuit brought by Tejano performers and songwriters against the legendary record label.

Hacienda Records secured a judgment in a Federal District Court in Texas on Monday in a long-running copyright dispute brought against the legendary record label by three performers and four songwriters specializing in Tejano music.

According to a press release, the Corpus Christi-based record label was awarded $294,645 in attorney’s fees and costs in a case centered on claims of copyright infringement and related Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), fraud, RICO, misappropriation of name and likeness, breach of fiduciary duty, and contract claims.

Ruben Ramos, Hugo Guerrero, and Arturo Rene Serrata challenged Hacienda Records’ ownership of copyrights to the albums they recorded at the studio. Songwriters Adan Sanchez, Arnold Martinez, Jesse Salcedo, and Ruben Guanajuato or their representatives brought similar claims and sued for copyright infringement for Hacienda’s alleged use of their songs. The lawsuit argued for statutory damages of over $15 million and also sought declaratory relief. Hacienda Records denied the claims and brought its own claim for ownership of the copyrights to its master sound recording.

The claimants’ claims were dismissed or denied by the District Court, and Hacienda Records obtained a declaratory judgment clarifying its ownership of the copyrights to its master sound recordings and compilations of the songs. The claimants then appealed the District Court’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Hacienda Records prevailed on appeal as well.

As a prevailing party under the Copyright Act, Hacienda Records then sought recovery of its attorneys’ fees and costs against the claimants and against their counsel David W. Showalter and the Showalter Law Firm for unreasonably multiplying the court proceedings and by vexatiously prosecuting a meritless case.

Nearly five years after the original filing, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos found that they filed sham declarations, registered invalid copyrights and then refused to voluntarily cancel them, failed to produce key documents as requested, and refused to dismiss frivolous claims. The District Court ruled that the conduct exhibited by Claimants and their counsel was “inexcusable and must be deterred.”

“We are grateful for the court’s attention on this matter,” said Roland Garcia, a litigation shareholder in the Houston office of global law firm Greenberg Traurig and lead counsel for Hacienda Records.

“Corpus Christi is known by many as the epicenter of Tejano music, and we are excited that this matter has finally been resolved in favor of Hacienda Records,” said Rick Garcia, Executive Vice President and a Founder of Hacienda Records.

Hacienda Records was founded in 1979 in Corpus Christi, Texas, and has established itself among the premiere Latin record labels and recording studios in the industry.

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