Western Canada Business Litigation Blog

k.d. lang Brings Home the Bacon – Artist Wins Lawsuit Against Former Manager

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In an intersection of law and Canadian pop-culture, k.d. lang successfully defended her California judgment against her ex-manager, Annabel Lapp.  Lapp, a Canadian resident, had been k.d.’s manager for 16 years prior to November 2005.  Matters became nasty when k.d. sued Lapp in California for fraudulently handling her finances.  k.d. effectively obtained a default judgment in California for about USD $1.9 million.  Cindy Harnett reports that Lapp decided not to defend the California suit because “it would cost too much to be worthwhile.”  Risky!

The legal part of interest is the enforcement of a foreign judgment in B.C. in the face of an allegation that it was obtained by fraud.  Lapp sought to prevent the enforcement k.d.’s judgment in Canada, arguing the California judgment had been obtained by fraud going to the jurisdiction of the California court.  She said k.d. had “misrepresented her place of residence” and where the two had originally made their management agreement, B.C. rather than California. 

Generally, to successfully attack a foreign judgment, you must present new evidence discovered since the trial or evidence that, despite due diligence, was not discovered until later.  However, “fraud” is an exception.  In such cases, you do not need to present “new evidence” or prove due diligence.  This is because “facts relating to jurisdiction are so fundamental that they should always be open to attack.”  However, the “fraud” must be “fraud going to jurisdiction” as opposed to “fraud on the merits”, meaning the “fraud” was not a matter that was or ought to have been raised in the foreign court in considering the merits of the case.  On the facts before it, the B.C. Court of Appeal found that k.d. had not misled the California court into taking jurisdiction over her claim against Ms. Lapp.   

Perhaps in prescient celebration of this legal victory, k.d. once crooned in her cover of The Beatles’ song “Golden Slumbers / The End”: 

Once there was a way
To get back homeward
Once there was a way
To get back home