FORT WORTH - A woman claims in court that her former business partner conned her out of rights to advances for the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy.
Jennifer Lynn Pedroza and Christa Beebe sued Amanda M. Hayward and TWCS Operations Pty. Ltd. in Tarrant County Court.
"This is a case about greed and self-dealing by Amanda Hayward in conning her business partner Jenny Pedroza out of her rightful partnership interest in advances and royalties flowing from the New York Times best-selling 'Fifty Shades of Grey' trilogy and in fraudulently inducting both plaintiffs into entering into contracts with a sham entity," the 48-page lawsuit begins.
"It appears that Hayward also defrauded, among others, [nonparties] Random House, and E.L. James, author of the 'Fifty Shades' trilogy. More than 70 million copies of the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy were sold in its debut year of 2012, Random House reported, according to publishing industry sources. The number includes books, audio books and ebooks in English, Spanish and German. The three books boosted Random House's pretax earnings that year by 75 percent, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Pedroza's lawsuit continues: "Pedroza and Hayward, along with two others, were partners in The Writers Coffee Shop ('Coffee Shop'), which was the original publisher of, and owner of the publishing rights to, the 'Fifty Shades' trilogy. Without consulting her partner Pedroza, and without complying with Texas law, Hayward tried to convert Coffee Shop into TWCS, an Australian sole proprietorship that she, alone, owned. She signed a contract with Random House (the 'Random House Deal') for the rights to the 'Fifty Shades' trilogy, in exchange for millions in advances and future royalties but, because of her chicanery, all payments flowed to her and not to the partnership.
"After having already attempted to convert Coffee Shop, and without disclosing that she had done so, Hayward told her partners that the partnership prospectively needed to be restructured into an entity solely owned by her for 'tax reasons.' She then fraudulently induced Pedroza and Beebe into signing 'service agreements' with TWCS, and subsequently terminated both of them.
"Pedroza now sued for Hayward's self-dealing at the expense of her partners and seeks equitable relief, including injunctive relief, the imposition of a constructive trust, damages, and to trap funds not yet paid by Random House."
Hayward is a resident of Australia.
The plaintiffs are represented by Michael Farris with Vincent, Lopez, Serafino and Jenevien, of Dallas.