US District Court in New Jersey ruled that Rob Fusari, Gaga’s former producer and business partner, must pay Wendy Starland, a woman who discovered Gaga, $7.3 million pursuant to their compensation agreement signed in 2005.
The agreement required Starland to find “an artist under the age of 25 who could be the female equivalent to the lead singer of the Strokes.” According to Starland, she attended about 50 live performances and conducted online search for an artist who was “edgy and bold.”
After Starland spotted Gaga performing at New York’s Cutting Room, she brought her to Fusari and Gaga’s career took off. Fusari and Gaga collaborated until 2010 when he filed a $30.5 million lawsuit against the singer for unpaid royalties. The suit was settled in 2010 on undisclosed terms, and Starland filed this lawsuit later that year.
In a deposition in September, Gaga had said, “My understanding was that Wendy and [Fusari] had initially agreed upon 50/50 perhaps before Wendy ever found me.” “Rob told me [that] himself. Wendy told me herself. They both spoke of the deal … in front of me.”
On November 17, a jury awarded Starland $7.3 million which includes, among others, $5.7 million for breach of contract. Starland remarked, “It’s incredibly validation. . . . I’m now placing a focus on my [own] singing career and am excited to share my new music and sound with the world.”