Folks our trial docket is full with a lot of family disputes this week. Jennifer Lopez splits with Marc Anthony.I don’t do family law but I honestly would have been surprised if this relationship stood the test of time. If I remember correctly Marc Anthony was already married with children, celebrated an anniversary and before we could say “congrats” he split from his wife and married J-Lo. There really is no science to this. Celeb or non-celeb, “you can’t cheat nature” as a wise woman I know says often. This was inevitable. I don’t do family law, so sorry I can’t get into the legal shennanigans in that aspect. However, I can discuss another family bruhaha more down my alley. For me, this was yet another case I felt was an inevitable battle brewing, Beyonce Knowles v. Papa Mathew Knowles.
I saw a recent documentary on Beyonce on MTV and there was something about Beyonce’s energy that was just off and I couldn’t place it. She just seemed so driven to prove a point that she could make it on her own. I couldn’t understand why a woman whose “place was on top-like condiments” to borrow America’s Next Hip-Hop Star X.O Senavoe’s line in “The Power,” seemed so bent on making that point. On the surface while everything looked great, what I picked up was a woman about to unravel. There was just something that didn’t feel right. Now, it appears it all makes sense as the legal story unfolds.
LEGAL PSCYHOLOGY 101
I always say it is critical to look at the intent and motives of parties, especially in litigation. Motives such as money, greed, guilt, betrayal etc. are some of the factors that make people do what they do, even in the civil realm. So, what have we here? Mathew Knowles, the long standing man in Beyonce’s life who gave birth to her (Tina Knowles helped too), raised her and helped her become a global household brand is suing to clear his name.
What is the motive behind Mathew Knowles suing?
Do lawyer’s get into the psychology of parties, especially in civil litigation? This lawyer sure does and thinks more lawyers should. What is the motive here? For Beyonce, her father betrayed her when he cheated on her mom. He continues to betray Beyonce, this time, by cheating on her i.e. (allegedly) “stealing” her money. It is too painful and it shatters the image Beyonce has always had of her father. It forces her to now get out of her shell and discover life for herself, albeit under the watchful eyes of the world. So let’s get even more specific on motive.
- Motive #1- Deep hurt on both parties end that really has nothing to do with the money. Mathew Knowles cheated and fathered a child outside of the relationship he had with his wife Tina Knowles. Tina filed for divorce. This two are all Beyonce really has known. They have been so integral in every aspect of her life including her world domination, business wise. If Knowles had not cheated on Tina, maybe Beyonce’s legal business world would not be unraveling the way it currently is before us?
- Motive #2- On Mathew Knowles part, arguably he need not have pursued the suit to “clear his name.” Yes the media alleged that the law firm audit showed that there was money “missing” or “stolen.” But, Mathew could have easily said, “whatever jokers” and moved on. But he didn’t. Indeed, he has a vested interest in demonstrating to his daughter that he DID NOT betray her trust. He did not cheat on her like he cheated on her mother.
- Further, Beyonce now has business dealings with Jay-Z Roc Nation , her husband’s company. So, she leaves one man, the one that in Mathew’s view matters the most, her father, to turn to the arms of another man, her husband – non blood relative. It boils down to how can she? How can she turn against me? Leave me for another man, who given the finicky nature of the entertainment business and relationships (seen the divorce rate lately), could leave you tomorrow? You don’t abandon family. To make matters worse, their relationship is at best “civil” with terms like “amicable” being thrown around. “Amicable” and family don’t go together well. You love family. You don’t do “amicable” unless there is an issue.
PSYCHOLOGY MATTERS IN LAW TO FACILITATE SETTLEMENT, MOVE NEGOTIATIONS ALONG OR WIN TRIALS
So! It is not always about running off to court to sue, it is always important to ask why people do what they do. What are their motives. For legal colleagues, especially newer practitioners, understanding basic psychology really allows you to cut to the heart of the matter and address the underlying issues. It also allows you to move negotiations further along or if your matter is an impasse, have a clearer sense of strategies to use at trial to prevail.
Anyway, let’s get into the story shall we? LOL! Yes, there is more. 🙂
- In May 2011, Beyonce terminated her legal relationship with her father.
- Shortly after, Beyonce signed a joint management deal with Live Nation & Jay-z’s Roc Nation
- Knowles who also had legal relationships with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams continued to suffer from the sour relationship with his daughter because the other two girls also fired him.
- Now the story gets interesting. It is now revealed that the basis for termination was because Beyonce bought into an idea that something was off with her monies in terms of proper accounting. Accordingly, she hired a law firm to conduct an auditing of her finances. The firm concluded there were discrepancies with accounting of monies. Based on those discrepancies, Beyonce let her father go.
- Until now, Mathew Knowles had been fine with staying silent but then news report that he stole from his daughter began emerging so, he sued.
Should Mathew Have Sued? If so, what are the strengths of his legal theory proposed? What about the law firm? Did they make a mistake on the accounting?
1. Should Mathew Have Sued? Unequivocally, yes. At the end of the day while he is Beyonce’s father, he is also a business man. I have stressed the importance of having legal agreements, even when you do business with family. Treat business with family just as seriously as you treat business with non-family members. Respect the skills, talents, time and resources etc. that your spouses, children or relatives bring to your business. Pay them like anyone else etc. Clearly, Mathew had a business relationship with his daughter. Now that he has lost three clients: Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, he certainly would like to continue to work as a music manager. He can’t do so with a soiled reputation. Beyonce is not some artist off the street. She is the definition of world domination when it comes to music. Finding work could be very hard for Mathew Knowles and most importantly as he points out, his name is soiled.
Beyonce now bears Mrs. Carter. Mathew is stuck with “Knowles.” He needed to sue to clear his name.
What’s the Deal With Mathew’s Defamation Claim?
I have covered Defamation before. See the Shirley Sherrod v. Andrew Breibart case on defamation analysis.
What About the Law Firm, Did They Make a Mistake on the Audit? It is plausible that the law firm made mistakes. We are dealing with mathematical calculations for a woman with numerous assets and an astronomical high net-worth. If Papa Knowles hires a law firm who does an audit, it is plausible they would find mistakes.
Why is Papa Knowles Suing Live Nation, Wasn’t it Beyonce that Fired her Father?
Yes. Arguably Papa Knowles should not be suing Live Nation. Beyonce enlisted the services of Live Nation. They submitted a report. She made a decision to fire him, so why is he suing Live Nation? The answer is contingent on the Defamation analysis referenced above.
Clearly he would also be suing under other legal theories. Let’s see how all of this shakes out. Watch the MTV clip below. Get the full story on the lawsuit on Atlanta Post.