(NEW YORK) — Patti LaBelle reached an out-of-court settlement this week with a New York woman and her 17-month-old daughter who she is accused of verbally abusing in a Manhattan apartment building. The soul singer agreed to pay the family $100,000 plus legal fees, according to the woman’s lawyer.
But now, according to the lawyer, that deal may not go through.
LaBelle’s lawyer, Dorothy Weber, is trying to set aside the settlement, said Sam Davis, the attorney for the victims. Weber, he said, is alleging that the victim, Roseanna Monk, breached a confidentiality agreement when she and Davis spoke publically about the altercation, Davis said.
But Davis maintains that no such confidentiality agreement exists. “My clients would not tolerate under any circumstances the fact of this assault being kept under wraps from a public that deserves to know the truth,” he said.
The incident allegedly began when Labelle, 68, accosted Monk and her toddler in the lobby of Trump Place, the Manhattan apartment building where they live and where the Grammy Award-winning singer stayed while starring in the Broadway musical Fela! in November 2010.
The singer for reasons unstated began “yelling, screaming obscenities, throwing water, drenching with water” and attempted to “strike and physically injure” the plaintiff and her young daughter, sending the baby into hysterics, according to the suit.
“LaBelle went into a full-frontal rage,” Davis said. “She dropped the F-bomb and the C-bomb in a tirade that wasn’t measured in seconds but a 10-minute tirade.”
The altercation then moved outside the building, where LaBelle allegedly tried to attack Monk again as her entourage pulled her into a waiting car, Davis said.
The Monk family plans to donate any settlement money to Hope & Heroes Children’s Cancer Fund, Davis said.
LaBelle’s lawyer and publicist did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
LaBelle initially denied there was an altercation, according to court documents. Surveillance camera tapes from the building’s lobby “mysteriously disappeared” after the incident took place in November 2010, Davis told ABC News.
Then a retired police officer, who was working in the building, gave Davis an eyewitness testimony of the altercation. “We think this testimony is what convinced LaBelle to reconsider her position,” Davis said, referring to the singer’s initial denial.
LaBelle’s lawyer also wanted a deposition from the singer’s son to be destroyed, Davis said. In this testimony, the singer’s son “essentially denied that any assault took place.”
“They [LaBelle’s legal team] demanded that I destroy video tapes and deposition transcript in this case which I declined to even discuss,” Davis said.
LaBelle’s actions caused “permanent personal injury” to both her and her daughter, the lawsuit said. It also caused her daughter to have personality changes, sleep disorder and a fear of strangers. After pastoral counseling with the family, Monk’s daughter has since recovered, Davis said.
Davis said Monk did not know who LaBelle was when she encountered her in the lobby. And, he said, it remains unclear why the singer targeted her.
“She’s supposed to be a nice lady but this level of violence in the presence of such a young child is very troubling and the outright denial that she ever did this is even more troubling,” Davis said.
This isn’t the first lawsuit against LaBelle. West Point cadet Richard King sued the singer last year when her security team attacked him at a Houston airport, ABC News reported in 2011. He was talking to his brother on his cell phone when her bodyguards “sprang into action,” according to the civil suit he filed. Surveillance video of the attack that was later released showing King being punched and falling against a concrete pillar.
“Apparently defendant LaBelle believed King was standing too close to her luggage, even though he was oblivious to her presence,” the lawsuit said. “LaBelle lowered the window of her limousine and gave a command to a trio of bodyguards.” The suit said LaBelle “watched the vicious assault, with approval, from her limousine.”
A police report of the incident said that King was belligerent and harassing the occupants of the limo, including striking a member of LaBelle’s entourage. The case has yet to be resolved.
As for LaBelle’s most recent case, Davis is asking that the singer apologize to his client and her 17-month-old daughter.
“Ms. LaBelle owes an apology to the Monks for the harm she caused and I’m hoping she expresses that since this case has now been dismissed,” the attorney said. “There is no legal detriment to admitting she was wrong and sorry for her hurtful conduct.”
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