The nine-member New York rap group Wu-Tang Clan and affiliate Poppa Wu were sued Thursday for breach of contract and fraud arising from the group's alleged failure to pay legal fees for a 1998 lawsuit.
Lawyer Ed McPherson represented the group in a suit filed in October 1998 by a female dancer who was in a Wu-Tang video shot a year earlier. The woman said she was assaulted, verbally abused and defamed during the shoot.
Actress/dancer Bridget Gray filed a $6 million suit in October 1998 against Wu-Tang and its label, Loud/RCA., but according to the terms of the settlement, McPherson said he could not reveal if Gray was the alleged assault victim.
"We ended up settling for 15 thousand," McPherson said. "She was asking for half a million."
Wu-Tang skipped out on the legal bills, McPherson said. "Despite promises that they were going to pay, they simply have not," he said. "They paid me the initial retainer, and that was it."
McPherson filed the $35,000 suit Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
A spokesperson at Loud was unaware of the suit and would not comment.
In 1997, Jessiah Styles, a Loud promotion staffer, filed a $2 million suit against Wu-Tang members RZA (born Robert Diggs), Raekwon the Chef (born Corey Woods), Masta Killa (born E. Turner), Method Man (born Clifford Smith), U-God (born Lamont Hawkins), Ghostface Killah (born Dennis Coles) and Inspectah Deck (born Jason Hunter), claiming the rappers assaulted him.
Members of the group have had other legal problems during the past three years, most frequently Ol' Dirty Bastard (born Russell Jones), who was arrested in September 1998 on suspicion of making terrorist threats at a West Hollywood nightclub. In 1999, he was arrested twice for the possession of crack cocaine, as well as driving without a valid driver's license.
ODB pleaded no contest to those charges as well as to allegations of wearing a bulletproof vest in November 1998. In conjunction with the ruling, ODB was sentenced to a year in drug rehab and put on three years probation. He violated that probation and is undergoing a 90-day evaluation at the California Institution for Men in Chino, Calif. Two of his crack-cocaine charges are still pending in New York, as are multiple charges that he illegally operated a vehicle.
Wu-Tang's second record, Wu-Tang Forever (1997) featured the single "Triumph" (RealAudio excerpt). The album debuted on the Billboard 200 albums chart at #1.