Tom Petty's daughters say late father's wife seized control of estate

Daughters suing Dana York Petty for $5m in damages

(CNN) - In the latest move in an ongoing back-and-forth over Tom Petty's estate, the late singer's daughters are suing his widow, Dana York Petty.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Adria Petty and Annakim Violette asked for $5 million in damages plus attorney's fees.

The daughters, who are from Petty's first marriage to Jane Benyo, claim that that their father's wife of 16 years hasn't allowed them enough say in how the rocker's estate will be managed.

Petty, whose hits include "Free Fallin'," "I Won't Back Down," and "Learning to Fly," died at age 66 in 2017, of an accidental drug overdose, according to the Los Angeles County medical examiner's office.

The plaintiff in the suit is Tom Petty Unlimited, a limited liability corporation formed in March 2018 to manage the musician's assets after his death.

The entity controls Petty's rights as a recording artist, composer, publisher and producer and oversees his memorabilia, equipment, musical instruments and other financial assets.

Petty's daughters assert in the lawsuit that Petty gave equal responsibility over his estate to them and York Petty. The daughters accuse York Petty of "gross mismanagement" of Tom Petty Unlimited, according to the lawsuit

The lawsuit says York Petty has caused the daughters to lose out on business opportunities through her "exploitation of master recordings" Tom Petty made with a range of companies, including MCA Records, Geffen Records, and Warner Music Group.

The lawsuit also says York Petty created a competing company, known as Tom Petty Legacy, "to usurp Plaintiff's business opportunities and misappropriate its assets."

In a statement to CNN, York Petty's attorney, Adam Streisand, called the lawsuit "misguided and meritless."

He said the "lawsuit sadly demonstrates exactly why Tom Petty designated his wife to be the sole trustee with authority to manage his estate. Dana will not allow destructive nonsense like this to distract her from protecting her husband's legacy."

In a legal filing last month, York Petty's lawyers wrote that Petty's daughters were trying to "rule by majority," in the three-person partnership, and thereby diminish York Petty's power.

Among the complaints in that 270-page filing, York Petty's lawyers wrote that Adria Petty's "erratic behavior has made it exceedingly -- and increasingly -- difficult to carry on business." The filing alleged Adria had "threatened the Trust's business dealings and important relationships with the Heartbreakers, Tom's record labels...and Tom's longstanding management team."

York Petty's filing also asked the court to designate a professional manager to manage Petty's assets along with York Petty and his daughters.

Petty recordings have been released after his death

Petty's recording catalog has value as his work with the Heartbreakers and as a solo artist are still mainstays on classic rock stations.

A four-CD box set of previously unreleased material by Petty called "An American Treasure" was released in 2018. A second posthumous compilation, a greatest hits album called "The Best of Everything," came out in March 2019.

CNN's Theresa Waldrop and Janette Gagnon contributed to this story.

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