Artist sued Troy Patterson in February.

Mario's former manager, Troy Patterson, and his Third Street Music have responded to the lawsuit filed by the multiplatinum artist in February. They countersued Mario today (March 30) for breach of contract and sued a slew of others for allegedly interfering with their relationship: J Records, Julius "J" Erving III, the Coalition, Matthew Knowles, Troy Carter and Mario's mother, Shawntia Hardaway.

Mario sued Patterson and Third Street Feb. 16, claiming that the man who sheltered him as a teenager when his mother was a drug addict diverted "virtually every meaningful benefit generated from his recording career."

Mario alleged that Patterson—who later acted as his personal manager, business manager, publisher and record label, either individually or through his company —convinced Mario's mother to enter a recording and publishing deal for the minor with Third Street; selected and paid for an attorney inexperienced in the music industry to represent Mario in those deals; and had himself appointed as Mario's joint guardian.

Mario claims that he has only received about $50,000 from the sale of more than 3 million records under his deal with the production company, which entered an agreement for Mario's recordings with J Records. He wants his contracts declared to be void, all of the money Patterson and Third Street received under the "oppressive" deal turned over to him, plus damages for fraud and breach of fiduciary duties.

Troy Patterson and his Third Street Music claim that the agreements Mario entered as a minor are fair and legal, and the other parties must stop interfering with their contractual rights. Patterson and his company want at least $5 million and a court order to permit Patterson to participate in the creative process of Mario's future albums.

The counterclaims also say that Mario's mother selected the attorney to review the contracts even though Patterson suggested other experienced music attorneys; Mario's mother asked Patterson to act as guardian with Mario's aunt; and Third Street has not received any royalties from J Records to pass onto Mario. It also claims that Patterson worked with an attorney -- whom the Baltimore court appointed to serve as guardian of Mario's property – before disbursing money.

Patterson wants his deals with Mario declared valid. If they are not, then he wants Mario to pay him at least $2.1 million for the fair market value of his past services plus out-of-pocket costs.

In the suit against the other parties, Patterson claims that Matthew Knowles began working as Mario's manager. In January 2005, Knowles and J Records staff members began freezing Patterson out of the recording process even though his deal with J entitled him to approve all recording and marketing, it claims. Mario's mother and the other defendants began to "completely alienate Mario" from Patterson and Third Street, and began "insinuating themselves" in his place, the suit says. Later the Coalition, Erving and Carter, became Mario's new managers, the suit adds.

Patterson asks the federal court in New York to declare Third Street's agreements valid, enjoin J Records from making or marketing Mario's albums without Third Street's "full creative participation" and award at least $5 million in damages.

"We are not in the business of interfering," Erving tells Billboard.biz. "We are in the business of serving our clients. We just want to move forward and do good business with Mario."

Matthew Knowles says that he is really not a part of this dispute. "I haven't managed Mario in over a year. He was in the process of promoting an album, not recording an album, so I have no idea of what's happened in the recording process." Knowles adds that he hopes they work out their problems.

J Records declined to comment. The other parties could not be reached for comment.

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