"I did not fuck you," was how Courtney Love responded when told by her Seattle attorneys that she owed them up to $341,000 plus interest. That was the balance due on legal fees attorney Katherine Hendricks and O. Yale Lewis say Love incurred in a 2002 lawsuit against former members of her late husband's band, Nirvana, from which she ultimately earned at least $9 million.
But the troubled widow of Kurt Cobain has now agreed to settle the attorneys' tab for an undisclosed amount, according to King County Superior Court records. The settlement, effective Monday, Sept. 17, apparently ends a three-year claim by Hendricks and Lewis, who alleged Love breached their legal-services contract. Hendricks would not discuss details of the settlement or confirm whether Love had paid her debt on time, as she agreed to do in an Aug. 28 settlement report. A trial had been set to begin on Wednesday.
Court records indicate Love paid the Hendricks & Lewis firm $1.15 million to represent her in the battle with Nirvana's two surviving members, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic. But the attorneys claimed she still owed $341,000, plus as much as $200,000 in interest accrued over five years.
In the 2002 case, Love, 43, acting on behalf of herself and her daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, challenged Grohl, Novoselic, and Universal Music Group over the proposed release of the band's final track, "You Know You're Right," and sued for control of Nirvana's musical legacy. The combatants eventually agreed to an out-of-court deal that included the release of a Nirvana box set and a greatest-hits album.
Exact terms of that settlement were never released, but court records in the attorney-fee dispute state that Love was paid $4 million from the renegotiated contract. According to a declaration by Hendricks, publishing deals related to that contract also earned Love and Frances Bean (as well as Love's business, the End of Music LLC) another $5 million. (Last year, Love sold 25 percent of her Nirvana publishing rights to Primary Wave Music for a rumored $50 million, according to MTV News.)
Hendricks & Lewis said all its legal fees would be paid from those proceeds. But although Love promptly paid her bill for 22 consecutive months, she abruptly refused to further compensate the firm despite "substantial rewards received" in the Nirvana case.
In court papers, Love claimed H&L "significantly overbilled" her for the litigation, and spent "unjustified amounts of time" on the case. In a fax she sent to the attorneys, she had claimed that "I did not fuck you. I paid you every oenny [sic]."
The former Hole singer also claimed she was never served with papers in the fee-dispute case because she was entering a Los Angeles courthouse to fight drug charges at the time.
"I understand," she says in a King County court declaration, "that the process server states that I was handed a Summons and Complaint [in L.A.] and that I dropped it on the ground and that Mr. [attorney Howard] Weitzman picked it up and acknowledged I had been served with a Complaint. I never received any such document and deny that this occurred."
In that 2005 L.A. case, she admitted to using drugs while on probation from an earlier drug case that had temporarily cost her custody of her daughter. A judge sent the rocker and sometimes-actress to rehab for a month; after she re-violated she was locked down in rehab for six more months. (Love recently said she has cleaned up her act and slimmed down following a healthy, drug-free diet.)
H&L said Love did not respond to requests for discovery in the fee-dispute case. Though they asked for extensive documents, she refused to provide "a single sheet of paper," they said. Love appeared upset that the attorneys had asked for financial details regarding the trust fund that was set up for her daughter not long after Cobain's Seattle suicide in 1994. After a King County judge ordered her to turn over some financial documents in the fee dispute, the two sides got together with a mediator earlier this year. They later reached a settlement based on the mediator's recommendations.
Last month, papers were signed indicating an undisclosed payment would be made by Monday, and the case was closed. Neither Love nor her representatives could be reached for comment.