NEW Y O R K, July 24, 2000 -- A New York publicist has filed a $7 millionlawsuit charging that the mother of teen singer Christina Aguileraand others have cheated her out of her share of the young star’sfortune.
Ruth Inniss says in papers filed in Manhattan’s StateSupreme Court that she is owed at least $2 million from thesinger’s earnings from her debut album, Christina Aguilera,and from other activities.
The album, which reached No. 1 on pop sales charts, produced atleast 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 in1993 while in Orlando, Fla., doing publicity for the female R&Bsinging group, SWV. Christina was 12 and a Mouseketeer on theMickey Mouse Show.
Inniss’ court papers say she told Aguilera’s mother, ShellyKearns, that she could help the girl’s singing career and theyagreed to stay in touch.
In February 1994, Inniss’ papers say, Kearns contacted her. Thewomen agreed that Inniss would act as Aguilera’s manager, helpingto develop all phases of her career, and receive a standardmanager’s commission.
Inniss’ papers say the music industry lawyer she approached tohelp with Aguilera’s career cut her out of the girl’s career,despite Inniss’ tireless and continuous efforts on the teenager’sbehalf.
Lawyer Accused of Interference
Inniss accused the lawyer, Normand R. Kurtz, head of DartmouthManagement Co. and Dartmouth Record Co., and his son Steven Kurtz,head of Marquee Management Co., of interfering with her contractwith Kearns.
Court papers seek $2 million of Aguilera’s earnings and $5million in compensatory and punitive damages from the Kurtzes andtheir companies. The lawsuit accuses Kearns of breach of contract.
Inniss’ lawyer, Michael Steindam, said his client does not havea written contract with any of the defendants. But he says RCA,Aguilera’s recording company, produced a promotional videotape inwhich Kearns refers to Inniss — though not by name — in discussinghow 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.