Esham, the King of not having his business together or playing nice with others in the Detroit music scene, was sued for a whopping $4,650,000 by Detroit’s own Bridgeport Music, Southfield Music and Westbound Records in 2003.
According to court documents, Esham sampled riffs without permission from Parliament/Funkadelic, Ohio Players, George Clinton and the Detroit Emeralds.
The case spanned for about 10 years, finally ending in 2013, with a default judgement levied against Rashamm A. Smith (Esham) for the amount of $33,690.41, and an additional $10,156.07 in attorney fees.
The plaintiffs were beyond frustrated with this case as they were never able to properly serve Esham with any official papers. Sworn testimony from Esham’s booking agent at the time, John Finberg, and Alex Abyss of Psychopathic Records state they had no idea how to get ahold of Esham stating that he simply just “shows up”.
Shari Lesnick, attorney for the plaintiff, made a career out of trying to track Esham down. On July 19, 2003 she attempted to serve Esham unsuccessfully at his last known residence of 18451 Schoenherr. On July 22, 2003 she tried to serve Esham at the Emerald Theater where he was supposed to perform, but he didn’t appear. And finally on October 10, 2003 she tried to serve Esham on Stage at Harpo’s but was unsuccessful.
Esham’s game of cat and mouse went on for years but the system eventually gave up and slapped him with a default judgement of $43,846.48 for unlicensed sampling and attorney fees. Thats a small price to pay since Esham has sold millions of records in the mid 90’s, back when CD prices were $20.00 each, possibly netting him millions of dollars in the glory days of CD sales.
You can’t blame Esham for ducking the courts. Who would want to open up their books and testify under oath that you made millions of dollars back in the day, only to have an even bigger judgement levied against you.
After reading hundreds of documents I still have a few unanswered questions, mainly being does Esham own the rights to infringed songs? According to the docs, the plaintiffs went after the rights to these, so I’m unsure if he still owns them. This may also explain why Esham suddenly stopped pursuing a career in culinary arts. I remember years ago he went to school to become a certified gourmet Chef, got a job somewhere and then suddenly stopped. Maybe the $43,846 wage garnishment hit his check. I know the “Multikillionaire‘ is smarter than that…or maybe not.