David Dann accuses ZHU of contract breach, promissory fraud in $3.45 million dollar lawsuit
David Dann will seek at least $3.45 million in damages from ZHU, who is accused of breaching written and oral contracts with Dann and of committing promissory fraud, according to documents obtained by Pitchfork. Dann opened the case in a California state court in July, filing the lawsuit not only against ZHU but also several limited liability companies. The case is scheduled to be heard in court on February 25, 2021.
The complaint cites “Faded” as the start of Dann and ZHU, known offstage as Steven Zhu, as the starting point of Dann’s professional relationship with the producer. Per the complaint, Dann and ZHU met in 2013, when ZHU shared the “melody for what would later become the topline” for “Faded.” Dann reportedly helped ZHU finish the single, released in April 2014 via Mind of a Genius.
Following the release and commercial embrace of “Faded,” Dann is said to have quit his own career to work with ZHU, at which point ZHU joined Mind of a Genius “as an equal partner.” Dann’s complaint further alleges that, later that same year, he involved talent manager Jake Udell and TH3RD BRAIN management to help manage ZHU.
Discrepancies in Dann’s complaint and in ZHU’s objection to the lawsuit have since arisen with respect to the terms of Dann and ZHU’s professional agreement. Dann advances that in October 2013, ZHU entered into a Management Agreement with Udell that afforded Udell “20% of all music-related income” earned by ZHU, and that this sum would be “owed ‘in perpetuity.'”
Dann also states that he concurrently entered into a Producer Agreement with ZHU that would yield him a 10% commission, also to be paid “in perpetuity.” ZHU is said to have “expressly acknowledged [the terms of the Producer Agreement] in several written and oral communications,” according to Dann. Dann maintains that he not only sought featured artists for ZHU’s productions and produced his originals, but also collaborated with Udell to promote and grow ZHU’s career. Notably, Dann is not credited on ZHU’s music.
In his formal complaint, Dann additionally alleges that ZHU tried to renegotiate the terms of the Producer Agreement, seeking the change of the “in perpetuity” condition of commission to “15 years.” ZHU and his legal team have countered Dann’s claim, asserting that the Management Agreement is “materially different” from the Producer Agreement and “does not provide Dann any relevant contractual rights.” They further argue that the facts provided in Dann’s complaint are “insufficient” to support his claims against ZHU, due to a lack of specificity. ZHU and company have also identified the Producer Agreement as “an undated ‘Deal Memo'” said not to contain any mention of a post-term commission.
Featured image: Kiddest Metaferia