Music

Kelly Clarkson Ex-Husband Lawsuit, R. Kelly Abuse Appeal, Ariana Grande Divorce & More Legal News

This is The Legal Beat, a weekly newsletter about music law from Billboard Pro, offering you a one-stop cheat sheet of big new cases, important rulings and all the fun stuff in between.

This week: Kelly Clarkson launches a new front in a legal war with her ex-husband; R. Kelly pushes to overturn his sexual abuse convictions; Ariana Grande finalizes her divorce from Dalton Gomez; and much more.

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THE BIG STORY: Kelly Clarkson Sues Her Ex-Husband

Kelly Clarkson’s ongoing legal battle with ex-husband Brandon Blackstock just got more complicated.

Didn’t they finalize their divorce back in 2022? Sure, but that personal settlement didn’t resolve trickier business entanglements — namely, Clarkson’s relationship with Starstruck Entertainment, a management firm owned by Blackstock’s father that oversaw her career for years.

Shortly after Clarkson filed for divorce, Starstruck sued her for millions in allegedly unpaid fees, claiming it had “invested a great deal of time, money, energy and dedication” into her and had “developed Clarkson into a mega superstar.”

Clarkson responded by filing a complaint with California’s Labor Commissioner, resulting in a $2.6 million ruling last year that her ex-husband and Starstruck had violated California’s Talent Agencies Act (TAA) by serving not just as her personal managers, but as unlicensed talent agents who procured business deals.

With Blackstock currently appealing that November decision, Clarkson filed a new case in Los Angeles court this week — echoing her labor law complaint, but aiming to potentially go even further. To learn more, go read out entire story, which features the actual lawsuit Clarkson filed against Blackstock.

Other top stories this week…

R. KELLY ABUSE CONVICTION APPEAL — An attorney for the disgraced singer urged a federal appeals court to overturn his sexual abuse convictions and 30-year prison sentence, warning that the case against Kelly had stretched federal racketeering laws “to the point of absurdity” and could potentially turn college fraternities into illegal conspiracies.

MURDER CONVICTION OVERTURNED — A London appeals court overturned the murder conviction of Vybz Kartel, the Jamaican dancehall star who has worked with Rihanna, Jay-Z and others. The appellate court ruled that the guilty verdict had been tainted by a “fatal” error by the trial judge: allowing the jury to proceed as normal despite news that one of the jurors had attempted to bribe others.

THE SCATMAN COMETH — The Black Eyed Peas and Daddy Yankee were hit with a copyright lawsuit over allegations that they illegally sampled from classic ’90s song “Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)” in their own 2022 song “Bailar Contigo.” The case claims the artists promised only to interpolate the song and not to outright sample it, but “simply lied” in order to “avoid paying a larger licensing fee.”

JIMMIE ALLEN ASSAULT CASE DROPPED — The country star’s former manager agreed to dismiss her lawsuit claiming he sexually assaulted her, ending the case less than a year after it was filed. In the same filing, Allen also agreed to drop his countersuit accusing the woman of defamation. The lawsuit will continue against Wide Open Music, where the Jane Doe plaintiff was employed, and its founder, Ash Bowers. Allen will also continue to face a second lawsuit that claims that the singer assaulted a woman in a Las Vegas hotel room and secretly recorded it.

NBA YOUNGBOY CASE PAUSED — A federal judge ruled that the criminal case against YoungBoy Never Broke Again over gun charges must be put on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decides a closely-watched Second Amendment battle this spring, likely delaying a trial that had been scheduled to start in July. The looming SCOTUS ruling will address a federal ban on gun ownership for domestic abusers; YoungBoy is accused of violating a similar gun ban for previously convicted felons.

DRAKE WANTS OUT OF ASTROWORLD CASE — Attorneys for the rapper asked a Texas judge to dismiss him from the sprawling litigation over the 2021 disaster at Travis Scott‘s Astroworld festival, which left 10 dead and hundreds injured. Drake was named in the cases because he performed on stage with Scott during the show, but his lawyers say he had nothing to do with planning the event and can’t be sued for simply showing up for a brief guest appearance.

THANK U, NEXT — Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez finalized their divorce in Los Angeles family court, with the singer agreeing to pay her ex-husband $1.25 million, plus half the proceeds from the sale of their joint home and $25,000 of his attorneys’ fees; she will not pay him any ongoing alimony. The legal split was relatively easy, as the couple had signed a pre-nuptial agreement and had no children or other significant legal issues.

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