Stevie Wonder Owes Millions, Claims Ex-Lawyer's Widow

A lawsuit says that the blind singer was read out loud the terms of an agreement that gave 6 percent of royalties in perpetuity to Johanan Vigoda and heirs.
Ryan Miller/Invision/AP

What makes an effective entertainment lawyer?

According to a new lawsuit by Susan Strack, her late husband, Johanan Vigoda, was exactly that because he represented Stevie Wonder for four decades. And in that time, the singer's "deals with music companies went from oppressive to … among the most lucrative contract terms in the music industry."

Then again, maybe an effective lawyer is one who figures out how to enrich himself in the process.

Strack's lawsuit filed in Nevada federal court on Thursday also says that Vigoda negotiated a 6-percent fee of Stevie Wonder's revenues "forever" and that the fee would transfer to Vigoda’s heirs.

Here's more proof that Vigoda was "effective" in his representation of Wonder, whose real name is Stevland Morris.

"To ensure that Morris, who has been blind since shortly after his birth, was clearly aware of the terms of each of the agreements that he entered into with Vigoda, Morris had a witness read to him the complete terms of each agreement," states the lawsuit. "Once the terms were acceptable to Morris, he confirmed his (and his companies') agreement to the terms by affixing his mark to the agreement — usually his fingerprint —and the witness who read the terms to him also signed the agreement below Morris' mark, certifying that that witness had read to Morris all of the terms of the agreement."

Now Strack is looking to collect her inheritance after Vigoda passed away in 2011. The payments allegedly stopped in 2013, and then Wonder's reps "sought to negotiate a settlement of the dispute for 'pennies on the dollar.' "

The lawsuit alleges at least $7 million in damages.

Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner

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