Kelly Clarkson Legally Hits Back at Father-in-Law amid Split, Demands Money Made Off Her Be Returned
Kelly Clarkson is fighting back after her management company of 13 years, Starstruck Management Group — which is owned by her estranged husband Brandon Blackstock's father, Narvel Blackstock — filed a lawsuit against her in September claiming she owes more than $1.4 million in unpaid commissions this year, in addition to the $1.9 million she already paid.
In a labor petition filed on Oct. 20 and obtained by PEOPLE, the singer, 38, claimed that Starstruck Management Group violated the California Labor Code for "procuring, offering, promising, or attempting to procure employment or engagements" for her without first obtaining a talent agency license. So, she argued, any and all agreements — including their reported verbal contract in which she agreed to pay them 15% commission on her gross earnings — be "declared void and unenforceable."
In regards to the petition, Starstruck's attorney Bryan Freedman tells PEOPLE in a statement that it "conveniently ignores the fact that Kelly had her own licensed talent agency [Creative Artists Agency] at all times."
"While Starstruck Management Group provided talent management services on her behalf, it did so at all times that CAA was her agency of record," he continued. "It is unfortunate that Kelly is again attempting to avoid paying commissions that are due and owing to Starstruck to try and achieve some perceived advantage in her ongoing custody and divorce proceedings."
A representative for Clarkson did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Clarkson contended in her petition that Starstruck evaded "the licensing requirements" set forth by the Talent Agencies Act by listing their alleged violations, including that they failed to submit a written application for a license, failed to write a formal talent agency agreement with her, demanded "unconscionable fees and compensation" from her for "illegal services," gave her false information in regards to their engagements, failed to deposit a $50,000 surety bond with the Labor Commissioner, failed to post a schedule of fees in their offices, failed to maintain proper records and failed to post a copy of the Talent Agencies Act in their offices.
She further claimed that both Brandon, 43, and Narvel, 64, acted as unlicensed talent agents.
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Based on these "wrongful acts," Clarkson argued that she doesn't have to pay Starstruck the commission they're seeking and that any money she previously paid to them should be returned. She also stated that she is "entitled to a full and complete accounting" from them of all money they received "directly or indirectly" from all contracts, employment or engagements pertaining to her in any way and that any money made from those commissions, fees, profits, advances and producing fees be returned.
In their original lawsuit, Starstruck claimed that despite their "hard work and dedication" to Clarkson's career over the past 13 years, she decided "to stop paying Starstruck for what is contractually owed."
In separate court documents, Clarkson asked that Starstruck's case against her be suspended until after her Labor Commission proceedings happen because if she wins, all of the claims made against her in the case will be "moot."
The ongoing legal battle comes amid Clarkson's split from Brandon, with whom she shares two children: daughter River Rose, 6, and son Remington Alexander, 4.
Clarkson filed for divorce from Brandon, who also has kids Savannah, 18, and Seth, 13, from a previous marriage, on June 4, citing irreconcilable differences after seven years of marriage.
Since filing for divorce, Clarkson has been open about dealing with the split with her fans. She admitted in September that she "didn't see" the divorce "coming" and that she and Brandon are doing everything to protect their kids throughout the process.
"As you probably know, 2020 has brought a lot of change also to my personal life," she said while speaking to a virtual audience from the studio at The Kelly Clarkson Show. "Definitely didn't see anything coming that came, but what I'm dealing with is hard — it involves more than just my heart, it involves a lot of little hearts."
"We know the best thing here is to protect our children and their little hearts," she continued. "So I'm usually very open and I usually talk about everything but in this case I will talk a little bit here and there about how it affects me personally, but probably won't go too far into it because I'm a mama bear and my kids come first."