Walter Becker’s Estate Files to Dismiss Steely Dan Lawsuit
The pending lawsuit between Donald Fagen and the estate of his late Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker has produced another round of motions — and the increasing feeling that an amicable settlement between the two sides seems unlikely.
Pitchfork reports on the latest exchanges between attorneys working on the case, leading with an effort on the part of the Becker estate to have the lawsuit dismissed outright. To support his own case, Fagen has pointed to a 1972 agreement between the members of the band, the terms of which state that the death or departure of any member would lead to the automatic assumption of that person's share by the remaining members of the lineup.
Becker's team has now countered this by highlighting a clause that outlines the "automatic termination" of the agreement "upon the occurrence of any event as a result of which all of the outstanding stock of the Corporation will be owned by a single stockholder." It's the contention of Becker's team, in other words, that since Becker's death leaves Fagen as the sole Steely Dan stockholder, the 1972 agreement has been voided — an interpretation that, unsurprisingly, Fagen's lawyers heartily dispute.
In its own motion, the Fagen team argues that the termination clause was meant to be triggered after the final consolidation of Steely Dan stock — an event that, as it points out, would in and of itself dissolve the agreement, since there wouldn't be anyone else left. Moreover, they assert that Becker's estate "already received its fair share of Steely Dan’s revenues based on Becker’s contributions to the band while he was alive."
On that last point, Fagen's attorneys further underscored their position by arguing that since their client is the one who's currently out on the road promoting the group's legacy, he's the only one who deserves the rewards. "It would be unfair," reads this portion of the motion, "for one band member — in this case Fagen — to continue to tour as Steely Dan and do all the work while a deceased band member’s heirs reap half the benefits."