Former American Idol winner Phillip Phillips' legal battle against one of the show's production companies just got uglier and could cost him $6 million.
In a bid to void what he called "oppressive" management, recording and merchandising contracts he signed, the 25-year-old season 11 winner had last year submitted a petition with the California Labor Commissioner, alleging the firm "constantly manipulated" him into "accepting jobs and entering into other transactions" that were for its own benefit. 19 Entertainment denied any wrongdoing.
On Thursday, the company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April, submitted a complaint in a New York bankruptcy court, claiming Phillips has breached the management agreement by refusing to pay the firm between $850,000 and $1 million in earnings.
"19's new complaint is a blatant attempt to evade California's jurisdiction and thwart its fundamental public policies crafted to protect artists," Phillips' attorney said in a statement to E! News. "19 cannot murder its parents, then seek mercy as an orphan."
19 Entertainment says Phillips' lawyer had said the money would not be paid because they "anticipated" that the singer's agreements with the company would be deemed void. 19 Entertainment says that as a result of its "voluntary petitions for bankruptcy," a hearing officer appointed to preside over the singer's California Labor Commission action announced in May he was "closing the file without adjudication of the petition."
In addition to the $850,000 to $1 million he allegedly owes, 19 Entertainment wants the singer to also pay at least $5 million in additional damages.
After winning American Idol in 2012, Phillips went on to release hit singles such as "Home" and "Gone, Gone, Gone." He last dropped new music in 2014. He is currently working on his third studio album.
"About to lay some vocals down on some of the new songs today!" Phillips wrote on Facebook Thursday. "Been recording a whoooolllleee lot of music, now time for the voice. #PPLP3 #NEWALBUM."
In April, Phillips returned to the American Idol stage to perform with fellow alumni at the series finale. He also performed at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida in May.
Phillips is set to tour the United States this summer with Matt Nathanson, A Great Big World and Eric Hutchinson.
—Reporting by Roxana Salcedo