Now 18, LeAnn Rimes Sues to End Her Record Contract

LeAnn Rimes has asked the United States District Court in Dallas to sever the contract she has had with Curb Records since April 27, 1995, when she was 12 years old. Rimes, who now lives in California, turned 18 on Aug. 28. The singer’s lawyer, G. Tomas Rhodus, filed the suit to end the “minor’s contract” on Nov. 15.

The suit alleges no wrongdoing on Curb’s part but repeatedly alludes to Rimes’ age at the time the contract was signed.

Also listed as a defendant in the suit is LeAnn Rimes Entertainment, Inc. (LREI), which is headquartered in Dallas. In its contract with Curb, LREI promised it had the right to provide the label with Rimes’ services as a recording artist and songwriter. Wilbur Rimes, LeAnn’s father, was president of LREI at the time the agreement was made. Rimes’ mother, Belinda, who has since been divorced from Wilbur, now holds that office.

In May, Rimes sued her father and others of her management team, alleging breaches of fiduciary duty and fraud in the conduct of her career.

Besides seeking termination of her record contract, the new suit asks that Curb return and relinquish all rights in Rimes’ “sound recordings and audiovisual works”; return all her publishing rights; discontinue immediately the manufacture and sale of her records; and recall and destroy all of Rimes’ records now in Curb’s distribution network.

According to the April 27, 1995, agreement, Rimes committed to an initial contract period that was to end eight months after she delivered to Curb the master recordings for her first “non-gospel” album. This initial period was to be followed by seven more “option periods,” exercised at Curb’s discretion. Each of these renewal periods was to extend from the end of the previous period until nine months after Rimes’ delivery of the requisite “non-gospel” masters. The new complaint says that it would take Rimes an “indeterminate number of years” to complete her obligations under the disputed contract.

Curb paid Rimes, through LREI, a $170,000 advance, $15,000 of which was designated for her lawyers and $70,000 for the recording studio in which she had already cut material for a country and a gospel album. Tracks from these albums were later released by Curb on Blue, Unchained Melody: The Early Years and You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs.

The agreement gave Rimes and Curb the joint right to choose her record producer, and the label preapproved Wilbur Rimes as a producer. Curb agreed to release no more than three greatest hits or best-of collections during the term of the original agreement, and Rimes agreed to record at least two additional cuts for each of these packages. Curb also reserved the right to require Rimes to record one gospel album and to make at least one music video during each of the seven renewal periods.

According to the agreement, Rimes’ artist royalties (which included royalties to her producers) would start at 13 percent of the retail price of the albums sold and could rise to as much as 16.5 percent during her seventh option period.

In a separate document, also dated April 27, 1995, Rimes agreed that if for any reason LeAnn Rimes Incorporated could no longer make her services available to Curb as it had agreed to, she would convey those rights directly to Curb.

Curb required that a court approve its agreement with Rimes before putting the contract into effect, and the 160th Judicial District Court in Dallas declared it was a “fair and reasonable” one on June 1, 1995.