Lawyer Has a Secret Weapon in Ongoing Suit Against Led Zeppelin
Francis Malofiy, the Pennsylvania attorney who's still trying to prove that Led Zeppelin stole "Stairway to Heaven," isn't above using a little black magic in the retrial.
Led Zeppelin initially won in court over a longstanding charge that their signature song features a lifted portion from Spirit's "Taurus," which was written by Randy "California" Wolfe. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal ruled last September, however, that the judge abused his discretion by refusing to allow Malofiy to play a studio recording of "Taurus" for the original jury. (Malofiy presented an acoustic rendition, based on the sheet music.)
The flamboyant lawyer now plans to bring a secret weapon when they return to court for a do-over that's expected to begin some time in the next year: a lemon which he claims once belonged to Robert Plant. Malofiy also had it in his briefcase when he gave oral arguments during the successful 2016 appeal of the "Stairway to Heaven" verdict, according to Philadelphia Magazine.
Malofiy says he's had this sour little keepsake on ice ever since. "That's the lemon Robert Plant squeezed into his tea when we deposed him in London back in 2016," he says.
Plant and Jimmy Page are again expected to take the stand in the retrial. In the meantime, Malofiy's reputation as a giant-killer – he's reportedly won a $44 million judgment against R&B star Usher, $100,000 against the Hertz car rental company and an undisclosed settlement with Volvo – has garnered interest from others who hope to take on famous musicians.
Three British songwriters apparently want to take the Weeknd to court over similar copyright allegations involving "A Lonely Night," from his 2016 multi-platinum Starboy album. Other potential cases are more intriguing: A Brooklyn puppet maker reportedly plans to file suit against Fall Out Boy over the misuse of a pair of llamas.
No word on which talismans Malofiy may have hidden away in advance of those potential legal actions. In the meantime, he's ready with a slice of fruit that connects back with delicious irony to one of the best-known moments from 1969's Led Zeppelin II.
"Robert Plant is always going on about his lemon, and at the deposition he made a big deal out of slicing it up and squeezing it into his tea and then sucking on the rind," Malofiy tells Philadelphia Magazine. "Jimmy Page famously dabbled in black magic and was always going on about Aleister Crowley, and I said to myself, 'If they are going to use black magic to try to beat me on technicalities — well, two can play at that game.'"
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