Attorneys representing Evanescence singer Amy Lee filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday against the band's former manager, Dennis Rider of Rider Management, charging "breach of fiduciary duty," sexual assault and battery, professional negligence and currency conversion, among other claims. The suit seeks unspecified "general and special damages," as well as "punitive or exemplary damages." Lee also wants Rider to reimburse her for "all unauthorized and excessive expenditures" he accumulated using her credit card.
The suit also claims Rider "neglected Lee's career and business and has focused his efforts on having extramarital affairs, hiding them from his wife, becoming intoxicated during business meetings, physically abusing women and boasting about it, making repeated unwelcome sexual advances toward Lee, receiving fees in excess of what was provided for in his management agreement and using Lee's corporate credit card to purchase gifts for his mistress."
Lee — who, along with the rest of the band, has been working on the follow-up to Evanescence's 2003 breakthrough Fallen — claims in the suit she dissolved her working relationship with Rider late last month because he had "engaged in a conflict of interest" by continuing to represent former Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody as well as "wrongful, tortious and unlawful activities." The suit alleges Rider used Lee's credit card to "hide" from his wife the purchase of an $18,000 car he'd bought for his mistress. Additionally, it alleges he abused Lee's corporate card to pay for lavish and unnecessary hotel stays in New York and Florida in order to spend time with his mistress.
The suit further claims Rider routinely boasted about committing acts of domestic abuse, and would make repeated references to "popp[ing]" his wife. Rider's termination letter, included in the suit as an exhibit to the filing, reads, "As you are well aware, Ms. Lee was recently in an abusive relationship with Ben Moody. She has no intention of associating with any persons who engage in that sort of abusive and illegal conduct."
A spokesperson for Evanescence's label, Wind-Up Records, would not comment on the lawsuit or the allegations of abuse made in the termination letter about Moody.
According to the suit, Lee's decision to sever ties with Rider was further spurred on by the "overt and unwelcome sexual advances" the manager made toward the singer. On one occasion, the suit claims, "he put his head in Lee's lap and ran his hand up her leg, when she sat next to him on a couch to listen to a demo of songs for her next album." There was another time when Rider "put his hand on Lee's leg while he sat next to her on an airplane." On a third occasion, he told her "that he wanted to perform a gynecological examination on her."
Lee's suit follows an action Rider brought against the singer on December 1, claiming breach of contract; Rider is seeking $10 million in damages. Rider's suit claims he started managing Lee and Evanescence in late 2002 under a contract for three records; the band has completed one studio LP since hiring him. Lee's suit claims that, after receiving his letter of termination, Rider "had an attorney friend contact Lee's representatives, purportedly to discuss a resolution to the matter. In fact, there was no interest in a reasonable resolution, rather, Rider and his litigation counsel were busy drafting a lawsuit to file against Lee and used the feigned interest in a settlement to cause Lee to delay filling her claims. ... [Rider arrived at] the courthouse steps [before Lee in order to] gain a procedural advantage."
In a statement, Rider's attorney, Bert Deixler, said "Rider Management and Dennis Rider have fully performed all of the duties and obligations owed by the firm under the management agreement to Ms. Lee and Evanescence. Further, Rider has always conducted himself by the highest professional standards and conducted his business relationships with Ms. Lee in a transparent, appropriate and entirely legal fashion. That she would now suggest otherwise is appalling and untrue.
"Ms. Lee is very creative in writing lyrics to a song," the statement continued. "But now she is creating a version of reality that simply has no basis in fact, and she knows that. Dennis Rider's guidance of [the band] and Ms. Lee's personal career has made her a rock and roll celebrity worldwide and wealthy beyond her dreams. That she would now turn on him, make such spurious and groundless allegations and summarily dismiss him is illegal and disappointing beyond words."
Lee's attorney could not be reached for comment.
For a feature on Ben Moody's departure from Evanescence, see "Evanescence: The Split."