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New Juice for Country Star’s Accounting Feud

(CN) - Country singer Clint Black is not too late to sue his former manager for accounting malpractice, a Tennessee appeals court ruled.

Black sued accountant Charles Sussman and other business entities in 2008 for accounting malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, misrepresentation and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.

As a client since 1992, Sussman had provided Black with investment advice, tour accounting, tax planning and preparation, and other services.

Black fired Sussman after learning that Little Big Town, the most successful act on the Equity Records label in which Black had invested, had not signed its contract.

In his lawsuit, Black alleged that Sussman wrongfully advised him to place more than $1 million in royalties, loans and expense payments in the Equity label, which ultimately went out of business.

Black lost in trial court, which ruled his accounting-malpractice claim against Sussman and another defendant had passed the one-year statute of limitations.

The singer's claims against the other defendants were also tossed out of the trial court because it found that the Black did not establish a partnership or a reliance on such a partnership.

Everything turned around for Black, however, in the Nashville-based Tennessee Court of Appeals. In an opinion written by Judge Andy Bennett, the court ruled that Black's accounting-malpractice claim also included claims of breach of fiduciary duty.

Since that claim carries a longer statute of limitations, Black can continue to pursue the case.

The other claims can also be revived, Bennett wrote, because issues of material fact remain on Black's claims of partnership with the other defendants.

Black, who is currently on a world tour, has sold 20 million records since he debuted in 1989 with his "Killin' Time" album. Two years ago, he made it into the top five on "The Celebrity Apprentice," feuding with season winner Joan Rivers while raising money for an autism charity called the International Rett Syndrome Foundation.


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