Milli Vanilli Fans Get Refund Offer

The New York Times

Chicago -- August 8, 1991 -- Arista Records has offered to refund $3 on future purchases to anyone who bought a Milli Vanilli compact disk, $2 for a tape or long-playing album or $1 for a single. The offer could cost the Los Angeles-based record company $25 million, said a lawyer for Arista, Irving Scher.

The proposed settlement in a Chicago court involved 1 of at least 26 lawsuits that have been filed claiming Arista defrauded Milli Vanilli fans. The lawsuits charge Arista with implying that Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan sang on the best-selling Milli Vanilli album, "Girl You Know It's True." Mr. Pilatus and Mr. Morvan admitted last year that they did nothing more than dance, lip-synch and pose for pictures. The pair also returned a 1990 Best New Artist Grammy they won for the album, which was recorded by other vocalists in Germany.

The Chicago lawsuit is the first to reach a possible class-action settlement that could apply to anyone who bought 1 of the more than 10 million copies of the album.

All plaintiffs would have the option of accepting the offer, doing nothing, or continuing separate legal action against the company.

Judge Thomas O'Brien of the Cook County Circuit Court criticized the proposed settlement on Wednesday, but he did not rule out approving it. He said he would announce a decision on the proposal on Monday.

"In my opinion, this was a rather provocative type of conduct, and to require a purchase of additional merchandise really rubs me the wrong way," Judge O'Brien said.

To obtain the refund, a customer would be required to send in the bar-code symbol from the Milli Vanilli recording along with a receipt for the purchase of a new Arista product. The record company would then send back a check.

People who purchased tickets for Milli Vanilli concerts can send in a ticket stub with a receipt for future Arista purchases and receive a rebate of 5 percent of the ticket's cost.

Copyright 1991 The New York Times Company