A New York publicist has filed a $7 million lawsuit charging that the mother of teen singer Christina Aguilera and others have cheated her out of her share of the young star’s fortune.
Ruth Inniss says in papers filed in Manhattan’s State Supreme Court that she is owed at least $2 million from the singer’s earnings from her debut album, Christina Aguilera,and from other activities.
The album, which reached No. 1 on pop sales charts, produced at least two hit singles, “Genie in a Bottle,” and “What a Girl Wants.” Aguilera, 19, also sang “Reflection” in the Disney movie Mulan in 1998, and won a Grammy for “Best New Artist” of 1999.
Saw Aguilera’s potential in 1993
Inniss says in court papers that she saw Aguilera’s potential in 1993 while in Orlando, Fla., doing publicity for the female R&B singing group, SWV. Christina was 12 and a Mouseketeer on the Mickey Mouse Show.
Inniss’ court papers say she told Aguilera’s mother, Shelly Kearns, that she could help the girl’s singing career and they agreed to stay in touch.
In February 1994, Inniss’ papers say, Kearns contacted her. The women agreed that Inniss would act as Aguilera’s manager, helping to develop all phases of her career, and receive a standard manager’s commission.
Inniss’ papers say the music industry lawyer she approached to help with Aguilera’s career cut her out of the girl’s career, despite Inniss’ tireless and continuous efforts on the teenager’s behalf.
Lawyer Accused of Interference
Inniss accused the lawyer, Normand R. Kurtz, head of Dartmouth Management Co. and Dartmouth Record Co., and his son Steven Kurtz, head of Marquee Management Co., of interfering with her contract with Kearns.
Court papers seek $2 million of Aguilera’s earnings and $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages from the Kurtzes and their companies. The lawsuit accuses Kearns of breach of contract.
Inniss’ lawyer, Michael Steindam, said his client does not have a written contract with any of the defendants. But he says RCA, Aguilera’s recording company, produced a promotional videotape in which Kearns refers to Inniss — though not by name — in discussing how her daughter was discovered.
Steve Kurtz said, “I’ve never had any dealings with Ruth Inniss regarding Christina Aguilera — ever.” He said he had no further comment.
Kearns could not be reached for comment.