These Articles are from the Detroit Free Press
Ex-Supreme rejected in Motown suit
October 29, 1971
BY JACK KNIGHT
Free Press Staff Writer
Florence Ballard, one of the three original members of the Supremes, will not get a cent in her $8.7 million suit against Motown Record Corp. and her former singing partners, a Wayne County circuit judge ruled Thursday.
Miss Ballard's lawyer, Gerald K. Dent, said that he "will very definitely appeal" the decision of Judge Benjamin D. Burdick.
In her suit, filed last Feb. 3, Miss Ballard charged that Motown President Berry Gordy Jr., former Supremes lead singer Diana Ross and others conspired to push her out of a fortune in royalties.
In the suit she claimed that on July 26, 1967, Motown vice-president Michael Roahkind, another defendant, offered her $2,500 a year for six years as compension for leaving the group.
The suit also said that Miss Ballard agreed to quit the group on Feb. 22, 1968, for a total of $139,804.94 in rights and royalties -- a sum her suit called "meager and grossly inadequate."
Judge Burdick ruled, however, that since Miss Ballard did not give back this money she received for signing the release, "nor has offered to do so, nor has the monies in her possession, she may not maintain this suit against the defendants."
"Not having done what she should have done under the law, this suit will not be tried. It's now all over," Judge Burdick commented on his decision to grant the defendants' motion that the suit be dismissed without a trial.
In an interview with the Free Press Thursday, Miss Ballard said that she was "very, very disappointed" at Judge Burdick's ruling.
"When the $140,000 was received (for the release) I didn't even know it had been received. It was sent to my former attorney and I never even saw the check. And at the time, I didn't know anything about the law," Miss Ballard said.
"I think all the way down the line Motown has treated me very wrong -- moneywise and otherwise," Miss Ballard said. "I should have been given all the monies I made and I wasn't."
Miss Ballard also asked in her suit that the Supremes be forbidden to use their famous name.
The Supremes ran up a string of nine straight gold records in the late 1960s, winning fame for themselves and national prominence for Motown, with offices at 2457 Woodward, which is now one of the nation's largest recording companies.
The original Supremes were Miss Ballard, Miss Ross and Mary Wilson. Cindy Birdsong replaced Miss Ballard in 1968 and Jean Terrell replaced Miss Ross when she left the group last year to sing on her own.
Miss Ballard's suit charged that in late 1967 Gordy and Miss Ross "secretly, subversively and maliciously plotted and planned" to oust Miss Ballard from the trio.
Gordy represented to Miss Ballard that he was her "trusted friend," the suit said. But despite this, Motown and one of its sister companies, International Management Co., also headed by Gordy, kept $4 million which should have been passed to Miss Ballard in royalties, the suit claimed.
The suit asked for this $4 million, plus $4.5 million in punitive damages and assorted other claims, totaling $8.7 million.