Whitney Houston's dad's company sues her for $100 million. John Houston Entertainment claims the singer owes management fees for helping sort out her legal troubles during her pot bust and helping negotiate her nine-figure record contract

By Gary Susman
October 09, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Houstons, we have a problem. Whitney Houston’s dad’s company has filed a $100 million lawsuit against his daughter, MTV reports. And both plaintiff and defendant claim that he’s on their side.

John Houston Enterprises filed a breach-of-contract suit on Aug. 30 in New Jersey Superior Court. According to MTV, the suit says that the singer failed to pay the company for such management services as straightening out the legal mess surrounding her 2000 pot bust (she was stopped for possession at a Hawaii airport; the charges were ultimately dropped) and negotiating her contract renewal with Arista, which resulted in a $100 million deal in 2001 for the hitmaker, whose new album ”Just Whitney” is due Nov. 26. While the elder Houston is not named in the suit, company president Kevin Skinner told MTV he is a co-plaintiff.

Skinner told MTV, ”We weren’t her managers per se, at least not in name. But we were in effect. She had no management at that time, and we masterminded the whole situation. All of the parties involved, we selected. And we did whatever it took to get her [financially solvent]. It took her five years to run through her money, and it took us five weeks to get it back. But we didn’t do it for free.”

In fact, they did it for an agreed-upon 20 percent of the singer’s earnings, Skinner said. That’s an unusually high figure for a star of Houston’s stature, who would normally pay a manager 10 percent, Skinner acknowledged. ”For anyone else, it could have been higher,” he said. “And she was in a crisis. We could have named our price. But she’s his daughter. She would have had no publicists, no accountants, no lawyers, no house. She would be bankrupt.”

A statement given by spokeswoman Sonia Johnson to MTV quoted John Houston as saying, ”I am stating for the record that I am 100 percent behind the lawsuit against my daughter Whitney and am ashamed at my daughter’s staff… because they want to weasel out of paying my company… I will not rest until this is over, and I plan to see it through to the end.” Johnson added, ”John Houston feels terrible about having got to go this route. [Whitney] should know better than this. Everybody feels badly about this.”

But Whitney Houston’s spokeswoman, Nancy Seltzer, insisted to MTV that John Houston was on his daughter’s side. ”When I spoke to John a week and a half ago, he said, ‘It’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. I couldn’t do anything like that, and I didn’t,”’ Seltzer said. ”It’s sad. It’s two people who love each other who seem to be dragged into this public situation, which is neither of their own doing.”

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