Chrisette Michele and Def Jam will head back to court to face a $20 million lawsuit levied against them by her former production company, Four Kings Productions Inc. Earlier in the month, the label had asked the court to dismiss the 2008 suit but judges have denied the petition.
Douglas “Biggs” Ellison, the owner of the Queens-based production company, has accused the R&B singer, Island Def Jam Music Group, and her parents Lynette and Lemuel Payne of committing unlawful business practices in order to remove her from an exclusive contract she had signed with his company.
Four Kings had entered into an agreement with Def Jam in September of 2005 and worked on several songs that appeared on the singer’s debut album. However problems arose after her mother “quit her job as a teacher and in willful disregard of the artist’s contractual obligations to Four Kings, usurped management functions regarding her daughter’s newly found success, in an effort to keep the money in the family,” says Ellison in his complaint.
Michele then filed a lawsuit in 2007 against Four Kings and accused him of embezzling money from her Def Jam contract and harassing her; charges he insists though patently false were used in an attempt to harm his reputation. She eventually withdrew the allegations but Ellisonsays the damage had already been done.
Shortly after Ellison’s suit was filed two years ago, Michele’s publicist, Rochelle Brown, spoke with AllHipHop.com and said that the complaint was the result of a “jilted lover and gold digging manager getting caught.”
“The Payne’s and Mr. Berry did not unlawfully try to get Chrisette out of her contract with Four Kings,” said Brown. “Mr. Ellison’s devious plot to exploit and rip Chrisette off began to be revealed.”