Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Kelly Clarkson Sues Ex-Husband to Affirm $2.6 Million Labor Award

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Kelly Clarkson has filed a new cross-complaint against her ex-husband Brandon Blackstock that seeks to affirm — and possibly expand — the $2.6 million award she was granted last year by the California Labor Commission under a November ruling that found Blackstock charged her for business deals he wasn’t licensed to seek.

The new filing came after Blackstock essentially appealed the November ruling on Dec. 1, 2023, saying in a petition that he and his family-run management firm, Starstruck Entertainment, were entitled to a separate, full-blown trial on the dispute in Los Angeles County Superior Court. While Blackstock’s request is pending, Clarkson filed her cross-complaint Monday as a response to the September 2020 lawsuit brought by Starstruck that essentially touched off the ex-couple’s financial war soon after Clarkson filed for divorce from Blackstock in June of 2020.

It was shortly after the divorce went public that Starstruck, owned by Blackstock’s father, Narvel Blackstock, sued Clarkson in Los Angeles for alleged breach of her “oral” management contract and purported nonpayment of more than $1.4 million in commissions. Starstruck claimed that it “developed Clarkson into a mega superstar” and would likely be owed $5.4 million in commisions by the end of 2020.

In response to Starstruck’s claims, Clarkson went to the California Labor Commission a month later in November 2020, setting the stage for the decision late last year that found Blackstock was operating as an unlicensed talent agent in California. The commission found that Blackstock wasn’t properly licensed when he procured Clarkson’s judging gig on NBC’s The Voice as well as contracts with Wayfair, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), and the Billboard Music Awards. The commission awarded Clarkson $2,641,374 for commissions unlawfully collected by Blackstock on or after Oct. 20, 2019 related to those four deals.

In her new cross-complaint, Clarkson is suing for judicial intervention related to labor code violations, saying she believes Blackstock and Starstruck violated the Talent Agencies Act by unlawfully acting in the capacity of a talent agency in California for the entire period of their working relationship, dating back to 2007. “Based on the wrongful acts and conduct of Starstruck,” her new filing claims, “all agreements between the parties, should be declared void and unenforceable, no monies should be paid by cross-complainants to Starstruck, and all monies previously paid by cross-complainants to Starstruck should be disgorged from Starstruck, forthwith.” Clarkson is asking the court to order a “complete accounting” from Starstruck to determine if she’s owed more than the $2.6 million outlined in the labor commission award.

“It is morally, ethically and legally wrong to attempt to get monies back from your ex-husband who not only helped her as her manager but who used those earnings on their children and Kelly and Brandon’s lifestyle during the marriage,” Blackstock’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman, tells Rolling Stone in response to the cross-complaint.


Clarkson’s lawyer had no immediate comment. On her latest album, Chemistry, Clarkson includes several songs that allude to her breakup with Blackstock.

The couple’s bitter breakup also came into view during the evidentiary hearing last year held by the labor commission before its ruling. In a brief filed by Clarkson’s camp last July, Clarkson is quoted as having testified for the commission that she was never approached by NBC to work on the American version of The Voice before Blackstock reached out to them. She claimed Blackstock had advised her that NBC wasn’t interested because they were looking for “a more sex symbol type.” Asked how she could recall that so specifically, Clarkson testified, “Well, a wife doesn’t forget a time she gets told she’s not a sex symbol, so that stays.”

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