Former Jefferson Starship guitarist's motion to strike counter-claims denied in suit over use of band's name

By William Sassani | Aug 24, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – U.S. District for the Northern District of California Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James denied a motion filed by Craig Chaquico, formerly of Jefferson Starship, to strike counter-claims from current band members in a lawsuit between the two parties regarding the use of the Jefferson Starship name.

In her six-page ruling issued Aug. 16, James wrote that the defendants, David Freiberg, et al., had a valid claim of intentional interference in order to gain a potential advantage economically by Chaquico. She thus denied Chaquico’s motion for reconsideration. 

Freiberg is one of the co-founders of Jefferson Starship, according to the band's webpage. The band is currently on tour. According to Wikipedia, Chaquico left the group in 1990.

Specifically, James wrote that the defendants had “provided evidence that Chaquico intended to disrupt the economic relationship between counter-claimants and their fan base.” 

Chaquico, a former guitarist for the rock band, filed suit against the defendants alleging breach of contract under the Lanham Act over the use of the Jefferson Starship name.

The defendants filed counter-claims, alleging that Chaquico took steps to prevent the band from operating. These actions included posting on his website statements saying that the defendants were a “fake band,” that they made “fake recordings,” and that they were a “lesser cover band” whose members were “lesser artists,” the ruling states.

The defendants in the case say that they experienced harm economically because of the statements made by Chacqico. 

Additionally, the defendants also alleged that the statements made online by Chaquico were defamatory. 

James noted that “under California law, recovery for defamation may be had only for false statements of fact" and statements that are considered to be opinion are “not actionable” by the court. 

She wrote that the statements made by Chaquico against the defendants “are at least reasonably susceptible of an interpretation which implies a statement of fact."

She went on to say that “no reasonable person could construe them as provably false” as a matter of law.

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