As we and several other outlets reported earlier this week, Slipknot is being sued by Joey Jordison’s estate over allegations that the band has kept his personal belongings and profited from them unjustly. We dug into the case in more detail, acquiring the court documents for ourselves and taking an in-depth look (although not a legal analysis) at what is going on.
The initial lawsuit was filed by Steamroller LLC representing Joey’s estate on June 8th 2023, naming Corey Taylor and Michael Shawn Crahan (Clown) as specific defendants, as well as the band’s various business identities; Slipknot LLC, Slipknot Inc., and Knot Productions LLC. An amended version of the complaint was filed a month later in August 2023 which we gained access to. They list six causes of action in the lawsuit: Breach of Contract, Fraud and Deceit, Negligent Misrepresentation, Unjust enrichment, Conversion, and Accounting.
At the core of the case is a 2015 agreement signed by Jordison and the band upon his departure that his personal items would be returned. His estate alleges that the band not only failed to meet the terms of that agreement and remain in possession of Jordison’s belongings to this day, but that the band was intentionally deceptive throughout the process. The agreement described broad categories such as "wardrobe" and "gear" as there was no way Joey or the estate could have known an exact inventory of items, especially since after leaving the band they lost access to the band’s documentation.
The complaint states:
“On information and belief, Defendants entered into the Release Agreement with no intention of performing their obligation to return all of Jordison’s belongings to him. Defendants misrepresented their intent to return all of Jordison’s items and misrepresented what items belonging to Jordison were in their possession. After execution of the Release Agreement, Defendants proceeded to return some of Jordison’s belongings in an effort to conceal the fact that they were withholding numerous other items belonging to Jordison and required to be returned under the Release Agreement.”
They go on to provide evidence that the band kept his stuff and used it in exhibits in the traveling Knotfest museum, continuing to profit off of the items they have wrongfully held onto
The details of this argument are striking. The estate claims Joey, and later they didn’t know the band had any of his items until receiving messages from fans on the anniversary of Joey’s death showing his property as part of Knotfest museum exhibits, including a video where “Crahan is seen smelling Jordison’s jacket and telling a crowd of fans that it ‘smells like Joey wore it yesterday.’”
They also claim that around this time the band lied about items being donated, then offered to buy the items from the family which they refused.
They go on to describe yet another incident where the estate requested a list of 26 items identified from fan videos to be returned. The claim the band "agreed to honor the Release Agreement by returning all of Jordison’s belongings in their possession, but this too turned out to be a lie. Defendants returned only four of the 26 items, and two other jumpsuits that were not even on the list because Plaintiff
had no way of knowing they were in Defendants’ possession."
The estate is asking for the items to be returned, as well as compensatory and punitive damages
In response, Slipknot filed a demurrer arguing that the statute of limitations had passed, and there was not sufficient evidence to move forward with the case. They also filed motions to strike certain parts of the lawsuit such as phrasing about how Corey and Clown "heartlessly sought to profit off of Jordison’s death" and "publicly lied to fans that they had contacted Jordison’s family to check on them and express their condolences and love for Jordison in the wake of his passing."
We then acquired the minute order from the hearing on demurrer which took place on October 23, 2023. In this the judge ruled that all six action items in the complaint were timely, but two - the allegations of fraud and deceit; and negligent misrepresentation - did not have sufficient facts backing them up or the harm done was covered under other causes of action and so would be dismissed.
Some of the more scandalous phrasing from the complaint was struck by the judge, including the allegations that the band had used public mourning of Joey’s death to boost sales of The End, So Far, and details of the circumstances of his dismissal. In his ruling, he said:
“These three portions of the first amended complaint are irrelevant. This action is about whether defendants failed to give Jordison’s property back to him. The circumstances surrounding Jordison’s illness and death and whether defendants were “callous” to him are not pertinent to any cause of action. These allegations are inflammatory and scandalous.”
Now that the demurrer has been ruled on, the defense has filed a formal answer to the complaint. The response continues to deny any wrongdoing as well as making several affirmative defenses. They ask that the plaintiffs be given nothing in terms of damages or the items they are asking to be returned
The next scheduled event in the case will take place on 1/19 2024. They could still settle, and it remains unclear if it will go all the way to a trial. One also is left wondering why a lawsuit that has been ongoing for over six months is just now breaking into the news cycle.