Legal and Management

Lizzo Files Lawsuit Against 'Truth Hurts' Accusers Asking Judge to Rule Their Songwriting Claims Invalid

Lizzo
Erika Goldring/FilmMagic

Lizzo performs during Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park on Oct. 6, 2019 in Austin, Texas. 

UPDATE: After this story was published, Billboard received a statement from Justin and Jeremiah Raisen. Read their full response to Lizzo's lawsuit at the bottom of the story.

Lizzo is asking a federal judge to declare Los Angeles based songwriting brothers Justin and Jeremiah Raisen did not co-write her hit song "Truth Hurts" and are not entitled to any of the its profits. 

Lizzo filed the lawsuit Wednesday (Oct. 23) in California federal court after the Raisens declared publicly last week that they were instrumental in creating one of the song's signature catch phrases: "I just took a DNA test, turns out I"m 100% that bitch." 

On Oct. 16, Justin Raisen published a lengthy Instagram post declaring he and his brother were instrumental in the song's creation. Now Lizzo's legal team has decided to take preemptive measures and ask a judge to definitively declare the brothers' claims non-existent.   

Moreover, Lizzo's lawsuit accuses the Raisen brothers of coming "out of the woodwork with an illegitimate claim to co-own a piece of the work." The complaint says the Raisens actually assured Lizzo in writing last April they would not be making any claims to the song. However, subsequently, the Raisens allegedly withdrew their renunciations and began embarking on an "escalating campaign of harassment" and threatened to go public unless Lizzo gave in to their demands. The lawsuit says the Raisens asked to own 20% of the song and its profits.    

The documents also call songwriter Yves Rothman's "copycat claim" meritless.    

Lizzo maintains that she co-wrote "Truth Hurts" in 2017 with Ricky Reed, Jesse Saint John and Tele, and that neither the Raisens or Rothman participated in the song's creation. Lizzo's lawsuit specifically states the Raisens did not write that "DNA test" phrase, come up with the idea of including the lyric, and did not help Lizzo decide how to sing the lyric. It goes on to note that even by the Raisens' own admission the source of that line was a 2017 tweet and Lizzo included it in the song because a subsequent meme of the tweet resonated with her. 

Earlier on Wednesday, Lizzo took to Twitter to personally shut down claims that she plagiarized the fan favorite "DNA test" line -- adding that she plans to give songwriting credits to the woman whose 2017 tweet inspired the line. A rep for Lizzo confirmed this plan with Billboard

"The men who now claim a piece of Truth Hurts did not help me write any part of the song," she wrote. "They had nothing to do with the line or how I chose to sing it. There was no one in the room when I wrote Truth Hurts, except me, Ricky Reed, and my tears. That song is my life, and its words are my truth."

In a statement to Billboard, Lizzo's lawyer Cynthia Arato explained why she and her client filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the Raisens. 

"Today we filed a lawsuit on Lizzo's behalf to establish, in a court of law, that the Raisens are not writers of Truth Hurts and have no right to profit from the song's success," she said. "The Raisens did not collaborate with Lizzo or anyone else to create the song, and they did not help write any of the material that they now seek to profit from, which is why they expressly renounced any claim to the work, in writing, months ago, as the lawsuit makes abundantly clear.  Although it is all too commonplace for successful artists to be subjected to these type of opportunistic claims, it is nevertheless disappointing that Lizzo had to take this step to put an end to the Raisens' false claims and their campaign of harassment."

The Raisens fired back with a message of their own. "First and foremost, we are beyond happy that our coming forward with our story helped Mina Lioness get the credit she deserved on “Truth Hurts.” Being able to celebrate with Mina would have been even better, but a win is a still a win," reads the statement, supplied to Billboard.

It continues, "The Raisen brothers provided this statement to Billboard after the initial article was published, writing: "Regarding the statement from Lizzo’s lawyer, Cynthia Arotos, we find it unsettling that they believe our claim is 'unwarranted' considering the receipts we have which include a musicology report for the song 'Healthy' which predates 'Truth Hurts.' Another confusion we have is if Lizzo wrote this song alone with Ricky Reed, why was Jesse Saint John credited as a writer in 2017 from being one of the five writers in the 'Healthy' sessions in April of 2017.

"Lastly, Lizzo’s Attorney Cynthia Arato has accused us of 'harassment'? Does 'harassment' mean telling the truth to the public which led to getting Mina Lioness the credit she deserves?

"Aside from the happiness we feel today from Mina finally getting her credit, it’s heartbreaking to know we still have to continue dealing with this. But, it’s worth hanging in if we can some how help the next person facing this sort of issue. God bless."