After a federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed his $10-million lawsuit against Miami rapper Rick Ross (real name William Roberts II) in November, former drug lord “Freeway” Rick Ross has filed a new suit.
In an exclusive interview with BET.com, Freeway Ross revealed that he has attained new legal representation from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP and he’s gearing up to present his case in California state court on May 2. The Los Angeles street legend believes he has a better shot at winning in state court now that the California-based law firm picked up the case on a “contingency bases.”
“We always knew our case was stronger in the state than it was in the feds,” says Ross. “California state law really protects people with their names and their likenesses. So we knew that was stronger inside California than it was in the feds, but we wanted to go the big route first then work our way down.”
In the previous suit, filed in June 2010, the real Ross was seeking compensation from the rapper Ross, Jay-Z, Def Jam Records, Universal Music Group and others, for trademark violations, unfair competition and misappropriation of his publicity rights. The judge dismissed the case on the grounds that the real Ross did not show enough evidence of secondary usage by the rapper.
Now with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, on his side, Freeway still plans to name the same defendants, but threatened to include Warner Music Group if they use his name as part of their recent partnership with the rapper Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group.
“I’ll slap a lawsuit on them as well,” Ross promises. “They better not put my name on his product or I’ma be after them, too. I ain’t scared of none of them.”
The real Ross is confident that in this second round of legal proceedings he’ll regain ownership of his name in order for it to be used in a better light.
“We’re both teaching two different messages,” says Freeway Ross. “He’s teaching my old life: sell drugs, disrespect women, all the things that really have our country in shambles. I’m teaching uplifting values, education, literacy. He’s teaching illiteracy.”
For more details on the lawsuit go to www.freewayrick.com.
(Photo: Patrick Bastien/WikiCommons, Shareif Ziyadat/PictureGroup)