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12/15/88 PRISCILLA PRESLEY v. CITY MEMPHIS

December 15, 1988

PRISCILLA PRESLEY, JOSEPH A. HANKS, AND NATIONAL BANK OF COMMERCE, AS CO-EXECUTORS OF THE ESTATE OF ELVIS PRESLEY, AND JERRY WEINTRAUB, DOING BUSINESS AS MANAGEMENT III, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,
v.
CITY OF MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE; SHELBY COUNTY, TENNESSEE; AND THE COLISEUM BOARD, BY AND THROUGH ITS MEMBERS, GLEN HUNT, JAMES E. HARWOOD, JOE STEPHENSON, DON K. SUNQUIST, AND FRANK BARTON, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, STATE OF TENNESSEE EX REL. HARLAN MATHEWS, TREASURER, PLAINTIFF-INTERVENOR-APPELLANT



SHELBY EQUITY NO. 18, From the Chancery Court of Shelby County, Tennessee, The Honorable Neal Small, Chancellor

Petition to Rehear Denied January 12, 1989; Permission to Appeal Denied April 3, 1989

Highers, J., Tomlin, P.j., W.s., Crawford, J., Concurs

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Highers

HIGHERS, J.

This action originated in the Chancery Court at Shelby County. The State of Tennessee and the Coliseum Board are appealing from the trial court's order distributing certain unclaimed ticket proceeds.

The facts of this case are, for the most part, not in dispute. On August 10, 1977, plaintiff Jerry Weintraub d/b/a Management III (hereinafter "Management III"), concert promoter for Elvis Presley, entered into negotiations with defendant Coliseum Board regarding rental of the Mid-South Coliseum *fn1 for two Elvis Presley concerts on August 27 and 28, 1977. The parties agreed that Management III would pay the Coliseum Board a rental fee of $8,000 for each show. The Coliseum Board also agreed to furnish personnel for advance ticket sales for which Management III would pay $2,500.

Thereafter, Management III had the tickets printed and delivered to the Coliseum Board for advance ticket sales. Approximately $325,000 worth of tickets were sold for the two Elvis Presley performances.

On August 16, 1977, eleven days before the first of the two scheduled appearances, Elvis Presley died. The Coliseum Board immediately began giving refunds to the ticket holders for the two cancelled performances. In order to receive a refund, the ticket holder was required to surrender the ticket to the Coliseum Board.

On August 16, 1982, Priscilla Presley, Joseph A. Hanks, and the National Bank of Commerce, co-executors of the estate of Elvis Presley, together with Management III, filed suit in the Chancery Court at Shelby County seeking to recover the unrefunded ticket proceeds in the possession of the Coliseum Board. These proceeds totaled in excess of $150,000. Named as defendants are the City of Memphis, the County of Shelby, and the Coliseum Board. Thereafter, the State of Tennessee ex rel. Harlan Mathews, Treasurer, intervened as plaintiff pursuant to the Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act (UDUPA), T.C.A. § 66-29-101 et seq.

The State of Tennessee, the Presley estate, and Management III all filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court denied the State's motion, finding that the unrefunded ticket proceeds did not constitute abandoned property under the UDUPA. The court further granted partial summary judgment to the Presley estate and Management III finding that,

plaintiffs are entitled to the unrefunded ticket proceeds presently held by Mid-South Coliseum less any amount to which the Coliseum is entitled under the terms of the Contract, both with respect to charges and expenses incurred in preparation for the concerts and any charges and expenses, including reasonable attorneys' fees, incurred in retaining funds and making refunds to ticket holders.

A report of the Master, filed on October 13, 1987, found that as of July 31, 1987, the unrefunded ticket proceeds amounted to $152,229, with interest of $223,760.36, totaling $375,989.36. The Master found further that the Coliseum Board had incurred various expenses so that it was entitled to $22,702.32, plus a pro rata share of the interest amounting to $33,154.49, for a total of $56,154.49. The Master also found that the Presley estate and Management III were due the remaining balance of $319,834.87. The trial court entered its final judgment according to the Master's report, and the State of Tennessee and the Coliseum Board have appealed.

The issue we must address on this appeal is whether the trial court erred in its distribution of the unrefunded ticket proceeds. We find that the trial court was in error and that the State of Tennessee, pursuant to the UDUPA, is entitled to the proceeds less any reasonable expenses incurred by the Coliseum Board in maintaining the fund.

At the outset, we must clarify that the intrinsic value of the tickets, whether they be worth fifty cents each or fifty dollars each, is not an issue in this case. The purchaser of a ticket was contracting with Presley and Management III, through their agent, the Coliseum, for the right to see a concert performance, and the ticket was merely a representation of that contractual right. See generally Marrone v. Washington Jockey Club, 227 U.S. 633, 636, 33 S.Ct. 401, 57 L.Ed. 679 (1913); Scott v. Young, 421 F.2d 143, 145 (4th Cir. 1970) cert. denied 398 U.S. 989; Bickett v. Buffalo Bills, Inc., 122 Misc. 2d 880, 472 NYS2d 245, 247 (1983). Although the ticket may ...


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