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Led Zeppelin Lose Fight to Have ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Trial’s Legal Fees Recouped

David Martindale, Getty Images
David Martindale, Getty Images

A judge has denied Led Zeppelin‘s efforts to recoup roughly $800,000 in legal fees incurred during the recent trial to determine whether the band plagiarized a “Stairway to Heaven” chord progression.

The trial, which ultimately ended in a not guilty verdict, failed to establish any creative wrongdoing on the band’s part — but it wasn’t filed frivolously, according to Judge R. Gary Klausner, who determined that the plaintiffs didn’t have “nefarious motives” and therefore shouldn’t be on the hook for Zeppelin’s legal fees.

As previously reported, the suit was initially filed in 2014 by former Spirit member Mark Andes, who alleged that the “Stairway” intro knowingly lifted from the band’s song “Taurus.” Working through the trust established for the estate of Spirit founder Randy California, Andes and trustee Michael Skidmore sought to have California’s name added to the “Stairway to Heaven” writing credits.

Though the plaintiffs were initially unsuccessful, the surviving members of Zeppelin will soon face even steeper legal fees. Skidmore’s legal team has filed an appeal against the verdict, with attorney Francis Malofiy telling The Wrap that “many appealable issues” remained up for discussion after the first trial.

Malofiy, meanwhile, was slapped with a three-month suspension after the Zeppelin trial. Although the sanction was imposed because of his conduct in another case, he wasn’t exactly on solid footing with Klausner, who accused him of having “a tenuous grasp of legal ethics and a rudimentary understanding of courtroom decorum.” It’s unknown when Skidmore’s appeal will make it to trial, or whether Malofiy still represents the estate.

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