NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Bronx, New York clothing designer suing Jay Z for royalties from the Roc-A-Fella Records logo is seeking the recusal of a federal judge overseeing the $7 million lawsuit.
In a Monday court filing, plaintiff Dwayne Walker said U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis in Manhattan should take himself off the case “because a reasonable person would question his impartiality.”
Ellis’ chambers declined to comment.
Walker accused the judge of issuing inconsistent rulings that favoured Jay Z, the rap star and music entrepreneur whose given name is Shawn Carter Walker, and other defendants including Roc-A-Fella Records and its parent Universal Music Group Inc, a unit of Vivendi SA (VIV.PA).
Ellis was also accused of basing one ruling on a private call from a lawyer for the corporate defendants “without even reaching out to the plaintiff” for his views.
“On several occasions the court has ignored or reversed its own reasoning” in ways that benefited the defendants, Walker’s lawyer, Gregory Berry, said in a court filing. “Combined with the ex-parte call, this pattern would strongly suggest to the average person that the court is biased in favour of the defendants.”
Lawyers for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Berry did not immediately respond to a similar request.
In his July 2012 lawsuit, Walker claimed to have in 1995 created artwork depicting a vinyl record that became the basis for Roc-A-Fella’s logo, which also includes a superimposed “R.”
Walker is seeking to hold the defendants liable for copyright infringement dating to 1996.
The case is Walker v Carter et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-05384.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman