NEW YORK — The BackStreet Boys filed a lawsuit against Louis Pearlman and his Trans Continental Records Nov. 3 for reimbursement of legal settlements the group paid to former member Sam “Phoenix Stone” Licata and former managers Sybil Hall and Jeanne Tanzy Williams. The settlement amounts were confidential and have not yet been disclosed.
The complaint, filed in the Circuit Court for Orange County, Fla., alleges that Pearlman orchestrated control over a number of corporations that held rights to the Boys’ entertainment services and products since the group first formed in 1993.
The Boys — Brian Littrell, Howard Dorough, A.J. McLean, Kevin Richardson and Nickolas Carter — and their corporations allege that Pearlman did not properly handle the 1993 departure of Hall, Williams, and original Boys’ member Licata. Pearlman induced the Boys to sign agreements dissolving a corporation, effectively cutting out Hall, Williams and Licata from participating in future revenues, the complaint says. As a result, Pearlman put the Boys’ assets at risk from legal claims made by the departing parties.
The complaint notes that Littrell initiated a lawsuit in 1997 against Pearlman and Trans Continental for misappropriation and concealment of revenues generated by the group. McLean, Richardson and Dorough joined the suit the following year. The parties entered a series of settlements beginning in 1998. No provision was made to resolve the interests of Williams, Hall and Licata.
Williams then sued Pearlman and the Boys, as corporate shareholders, in 1999 for fraud and misappropriation of her right to financially share in the success of the group’s companies. Before the parties settled this action in 2004, the Boys entered another settlement with Pearlman paying him $29.5 million, the complaint says. The Boys claim that they were induced into entering the later settlement agreement with Pearlman, which also required him to indemnify the Boys for any claims made by Williams or anyone else engaged by Pearlman as a result of his wrongdoing.
Hall and Licata in 2000 also sued Pearlman and the Boys. While the Boys settled this action, it is still pending against Pearlman, says the Boys’ lawyer Clay Townsend in Orlando, Fla.
The Boys and their corporations seek “more than $15,000” in damages from Pearlman and Trans Continental, which is the minimum amount of damages required to file a suit in that particular court. The actual amount of damages — the settlement amounts — is listed in documents sealed by the court as confidential, Townsend says.
A spokesperson for Trans Continental says, “Lou Pearlman and Trans Continental Records have been operating in accordance with the terms of the settlement agreement reached in December 2000 with the BackStreet Boys. This lawsuit is without merit and is a classic example of the typical frivolous lawsuits that the United States Congress is trying to eliminate. All claims referenced in this recent action have been fully disclosed and settled under the existing settlement agreement. It’s a shame that attorneys keep trying to run up fees for frivolous attempts and actions. Mr. Pearlman and Trans Continental Records still share in revenue received from the records sales of the Backstreet Boys and wishes them continued success.”