Jennifer Lopez accuses driver of blackmail
(CNN) — Entertainer Jennifer Lopez says her former driver resorted to blackmail after the singer didn’t use a security team he recommended for a music video shoot.
In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles last week, Lopez, her manager and her production company allege that an attorney representing driver Hakob Manoukian demanded that “unless Manoukian was paid $2.8 million, he would disclose sensitive and personal information that he allegedly heard while driving Lopez.”
The lawsuit also accuses the former driver of making “other ominous threats to report Ms. Lopez to the ‘authorities’ if his demands were not met.”
Lopez is seeking a minimum of $20 million in damages.
Her suit is the latest chapter in a legal battle that began in April, when Manoukian, who was also Lopez’s head of personal security in Los Angeles, filed a lawsuit accusing Lopez, her manager and her production company of breaching his employment contract when they decided he would not handle production security.
Manoukian’s lawsuit alleges he had hired two police officers to assist with security during a music video produced by Def Jam Records. The night before the officers were to report for work, Manoukian says he was told to cancel their services and that Lopez’ manager was assuming responsibility for hiring personal security.
Lopez’ suit alleges that Manoukian “became hostile and angry because he mistakenly and unreasonably believed he had the unqualified right to designate the security team and profit from any budgetary allocations for such security.”
Representatives for Lopez and Manoukian could not be immediately reached for comment. Lopez’ attorney, Alex Weingarten, declined to comment, saying the “cross-complaint speaks for itself.”
The dispute between Lopez and her former driver dates back to 2011, shortly after Lopez and singer Marc Anthony announced their plans to split.
Manoukian quit his job with Anthony’s company, ARI Enterprises Ltd., and offered to work for Lopez in July 2011, according to Lopez’s suit, which alleges he quit his job “under false pretenses” after one month of service.
Manoukian’s lawsuit alleges that “intolerable” work conditions forced him to resign, noting that he regularly worked more than 40 hours per week, did not receive overtime pay and was not allowed “to take all his proper meal periods.”
CNN’s Douglas Hyde and Julie In contributed to this report.