A New York court last week ruled in favour of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation in a dispute with UK-based insurance company HCC International relating to the death in 2017 of artist manager Jordan Feldstein.
Roc Nation had invested in Feldstein’s Career Artist Management company, best known for managing Maroon 5, in 2016. Shortly after that deal, it took out key man insurance with HCC in relation to Feldstein, who was the principal business generator for CAM.
Feldstein then unexpectedly died of natural causes in December 2017, aged 40. Roc Nation subsequently claimed on its HCC policy, seeking $14.5 million for financial losses it claimed it had incurred as a result of Feldstein’s death.
The insurer then began an in-depth investigation into the claim, ultimately only paying Roc Nation $1.1 million. The insurer claimed that it was able to deduct from any monies due the revenues Roc Nation earned as a result of CAM artists moving over to the parent company for management, or from termination clauses in other artist contracts. Roc Nation countered that only returns on its original CAM investment received prior to Feldstein’s death could be deducted from its claim.
As the whole thing went legal, HCC also claimed that Roc Nation had failed to comply with its investigation, which also was grounds for not paying out on the policy.
However, last week the New York court pretty much sided with Roc Nation. Although it noted that there had been some tensions between the entertainment firm and the insurer during the latter’s investigation, the court concluded that: “HCC has not carried its burden of showing that Roc Nation’s lack of cooperation requires preclusion of its claim”.
Meanwhile, it added, Roc Nation’s interpretation of the insurance policy regarding the deductions of CAM-related revenues from its claim was basically correct. To that end, HCC’s request for summary judgement in its favour was denied, while Roc Nation’s request for partial summary judgment in its favour was granted. As a result Roc Nation was awarded $12.5 million in damages