R&B superstar Jill Scott was sued this morning by her longtime record label, which is accusing the multi-platinum songstress of skipping out halfway through a six-album contract and potentially owing millions of dollars in damages.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by L.A.-based Hidden Beach Records, claims that the label and its founder, Steve McKeever, helped launch Scott's career and nurtured her into a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter but was unceremoniously dumped in October after a 10-plus year relationship. Hidden Beach is shocked by her decision not only because Scott has apparently chosen to leave the Hidden Beach family, but also because Scott is contractually required to deliver three more albums to Hidden Beach.
The complaint alleges causes of action for breach of contract and damages owed under California's Labor Code Sec. 2855. That statute, sometimes known as the De Havilland Law" because it stems from actress Oliva De Havilland's successful fight in the '40s against long-term studio deals, provides that talent cannot be bound by personal services contracts for longer than seven years. Hidden Beach isn't disputing that Scott's deal violated the seven-year rule but the law carves out a requirement that certain recording artists who wish to terminate their lengthy deals must reimburse their labels in the amount the labels would have received under the terms of the contracts. Since breaking onto the scene with the double-platinum selling Who Is Jill Scott?" album in 2000, Scott's studio albums (and live albums) have generated millions in revenue. So while Hidden Beach's alleged damages are unspecified in the complaint, under California law they could total several million dollars.
The lawsuit is unusually detailed in its description of the small label's close relationship with Scott.
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