(CN) – The all-female music group The Pussycat Dolls is suing London-based Daily Mail for defamation after it ran stories in October 2017 describing the group as “a prostitution ring” and saying its members were “hooked on drugs.”
In a 32-page lawsuit filed Monday in New York Supreme Court, Richard Busch, attorney for plaintiffs Robin Antin and The Pussycat Dolls, said Daily Mail published “defamatory statements with a reckless disregard for the truth.”
In an October 2017 interview with Daily Mail, Kaya Jones, who performed with the group, said group members were pressured into having sex with music executives and were “mentally and verbally abused.”
Daily Mail said Antin, who was described as a “madam” of the prostitution ring was also responsible for the 2014 suicide death of performer Simone Battle, a member of Antin’s previous girl group project.
Plaintiffs said Daily Mail “should have known, with even the most basic check” that the stories were false, but instead published click-bait in order “to grab salacious headlines to sell their product.”
The music group, which originally formed in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s to perform burlesque, described the publication of the story as “intentional, reckless and malicious,” according to the complaint.
The complaint described Jones, the main source for the story, as a “disgruntled, unreliable and biased person looking for her 15 minutes of fame.”
The group went from being known as artists “built on the virtues of being empowered women” to now viewed “world-wide as a group of abused and immoral women,” the complaint said.
Antin’s reputation took a dive “virtually overnight from a well-respected business woman” to being viewed as the head of an alleged prostitution ring who fed performers drugs and responsible for a performer’s death, the complaint said.
Daily Mail should have known the group was healthy based on an interview with Antin and group members before the October 2017 story was published, the complaint said.
“[Daily Mail] knew, based upon their interactions with the members of the group, that nobody had ever so claimed or even insinuated that these events took place,” the complaint stated.
Jones was a background singer who auditioned to join the group around the time it got a record deal in 2003 but was denied a role, the complaint said.
Daily Mail Corporation, Daily Mail and General Trust and DMG Limited Media were named defendants.
A call to Daily Mail requesting comment was not returned by press time.
In a statement to Courthouse News Service, Busch said everything plaintiffs have to say can be found in the complaint.
“We intend to seek all available damages, and believe that the allegedly malicious conduct of the Daily Mail makes this a case particularly suited for punitive damages,” he said.
Antin’s Pussycat Dolls project was a joint venture with Interscope Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group, which released two studio albums by the group, following the April 2005 hit “Don’t Cha.”
The group announced it was going on hiatus in 2010.
In a 2015 trial, Busch, with the firm King & Ballow, represented Marvin Gaye’s family in the successful lawsuit that argued Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” stole key elements of Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.” Gaye’s family was awarded $5.3 million and half of future royalties from the Thicke song.
Plaintiffs seek financial compensation for damages but didn’t specify an amount.