Def Jam must pay $132 million in Ja Rule suit. Ruling awards damages to indie label TVT in dispute over the rapper

By Gary Susman
Updated May 07, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Ja Rule has been involved in plenty of feuds — with 50 Cent, with DMX — but this one went to court. Independent label TVT Records sued the rapper’s current label, Island Def Jam, over an album of Ja Rule’s early work that TVT wanted to release, but which Def Jam blocked. A federal jury ruled against Island Def Jam in March, and Tuesday, in the suit’s penalty phase, Def Jam was ordered to pay $132 million in damages to TVT, according to wire service reports.

According to the suit, Ja Rule signed with TVT back in 1993. In 1998, he left the label for Def Jam (a division of Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest record label), where he became the biggest star associated with Def Jam’s Murder Inc. imprint. The suit claimed that Ja Rule agreed to release an album of his early recordings on TVT in 2001, but Universal blocked the release. Found liable for interference with contract, fraud and copyright infringement, Def Jam was ordered to pay the indie label $24 million in compensatory damages and $108 million in punitive damages.

Def Jam’s lawyers said they would appeal the verdict. Meanwhile, it’s not clear if the decision means that fans will finally get to hear Ja Rule’s early tracks.