Lawyers for rock legends Led Zeppelin are cranking up the legal back-and-forth to 11, accusing the trustee of former Spirit frontman Randy Craig Wolfe of engaging in “a PR stunt in the hope of tainting the jury pool.”
In legal papers filed Monday, the band’s attorneys argue that plaintiff Michael Skidmore is “playing to the press” with claims that Zep members Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones are “refusing to appear in this court” to testify in the upcoming copyright infringement trial.
Zeppelin’s lawyers say that they have “repeatedly confirmed” that Page and Plant will be on hand to testify, as will bassist Jones, even though the latter is no longer a party to the suit.
Team Zep claims that Skidmore “refuses to take ‘yes’ for an answer” and “seeks to taint the jury pool by causing the press to repeat his false assertions that the individuals refuse to appear for trial and by hoping he can also claim the Court had to order their appearance.”
According to Zeppelin’s legal team, while they have confirmed that the musicians will testify at the trial, they cannot guarantee their attendance on a specific day, as they are traveling from England for the California trial.
Monday’s legal papers also claim that subpoenas to appear were never served directly to the group, were not accompanied by required fees to appear and in any case are null because England falls outside the plaintiff’s geographic scope.
They also claim that the subpoenas are for May 10, while the trial isn’t due to begin until June 14.
The group is being sued by Michael Skidmore, trustee for Spirit frontman Randy Craig Wolfe (a.k.a. Randy California, who died in 1997). Skidmore contends that “Stairway” infringes on the Spirit song “Taurus.” The two groups had played a number of shows together prior to the release of “Stairway,” and the release of “Taurus” precedes that of “Stairway” by several years.
The group denies the allegations. In legal papers filed earlier this year, Page said that, while the Spirit album containing “Taurus” was in his record collection, he hadn’t heard the song prior to the lawsuit being filed.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.