A Legal Document Brings New Revelations About Chiba’s Second Lawsuit
Four years after attempting a lawsuit against Elliott Smith’s estate, Jennifer Chiba sued her lawyer Ron Gold for malpractice.
On July 30 2004, she first sued Marta Greenwald, Elliott’s stepmother who became the administrator of the estate after his death. The complaint of the lawsuit was ‘breach of oral contract’ as Chiba declared she and Elliott had entered into an oral agreement and had allegedly agreed to ‘live together, cohabitate and combine their efforts and earnings,’ ‘share equally any and all property accumulated as a result of their efforts whether individual or combined,’ and ‘hold themselves out to the public as husband and wife.’
She later added that the agreement was also stipulating she would be his ‘manager’ and ‘agent’ responsible for ‘booking’ and ‘scheduling’ his ‘appearances for musical performances.’ After several amendments (because she was told she actually needed a license to be a manager), she dragged the lawsuit for several years, the court finally and definitively rejected her claim in 2007 and she didn’t get a dime from the estate.
It is less known that Chiba attempted a lawsuit against her lawyer Ron Gold a year later, (September 2008) and since I have acquired the document of the complaint, it is very interesting to examine it.
Chiba sued him for malpractice, breach of contract, negligence and fraud, but this is barely the interesting part of the document, the general allegation narration is the most revealing part, because it reveals a hatred toward Marta Greenwald. If you would just read the first parts, you would swear the lawsuit is once again directed against Elliott’s step-mother and not against Gold.
You can read the entire document here, but I will sum up the main and most dramatic parts:
First, Chiba reiterates that she was Elliott’s long-time romantic partner, whereas we know they had been living together for barely a year, and she insists they were living as husband and wife.
But then come the attacks against Marta Greenwald, who is the ‘long estranged’ step-mother and who is described as a greedy person who ‘opportunistically sought to assert total control over Elliott’s intellectual property and master tapes (including unreleased work) and maximize their commercial appeal for monetary gain.’
These are serious accusations. First of all, I have the proof that Elliott talked to his father (Marta’s husband) just a few days before he died, and had a regular contact with his family. Then the second part sounds completely ridiculous when we know why Chiba sued the estate (for a lot of money) and when we know she went to Elliott’s studio, just 2 nights after his death to pack a few things (and probably recordings) in the trunk of a jeep in the middle of the night. The long lawsuit she attempted against the estate was purely motivated by greed… ‘She had huge student debts he planned to pay off’, according to her friend Andre Perer (who left a few comments after some of my articles like here and after this article on Glorious Noise).
Chiba also accuses Marta Greenwald to have ‘undertook a vindictive campaign to rewrite Elliott’s history with Jennifer excised’, and she tries to justify her lawsuit: ‘The lawsuit sought monetary damages, as it must have, but also involved deeply emotional matters for Jennifer. For one, she felt responsible for protecting the artistic integrity of Elliott’s work.’
This part not only shows Chiba’s malevolent intention because she presents herself as the protective woman fighting against Greenwald, the awful and aggressive step-mother who wants to rewrite history. This is truly ironic when we know what Chiba told Liam Gowing, Gil Reyes and W.T. Schultz, altering her narration each time to fit the different things that were revealed over the years.
Of course, the following sentence has to be the most important part of the document: ‘In addition, the lawsuit would have essentially been a referendum on the truth and significance of her relationship with Elliott, especially in light of Greenwald’s efforts to publicly denigrate it and even accuse Jennifer of his murder.’
This is the first time that an official document officially stipulates the opinion of a family member, although this had already transpired through different items such as this declaration to MTV, and an article published in the Oregonian, which has now disappeared from the publication website. It is interesting that Chiba said that the lawsuit was an inconvenient referendum on the truth, because she lied quite a few times, it’s also interesting she uses the expression ‘Greenwald’s efforts to publicly denigrate it’, because Marta Greenwald has been extraordinary quiet, and has barely spoken publicly – again the two references above are the only ones to my knowledge.
Indeed, the lawsuit was a referendum on the truth about Chiba’s relationship with Elliott, and this second lawsuit was motivated by her bitterness after losing the first one and her hatred against a woman who may know the truth. What she has to say about malpractice is minor in comparison, but you can read the entire document here.