Months after she claimed she was kicked off the group’s reunion tour with New Kids on the Block and received a “termination” email, Spinderella (who was born Deidra Roper) filed a breach of contract lawsuit in federal court in Texas against Sandra “Pepa” Denton and Cheryl “Salt” James.
“A U.S. District Court Judge in the Dallas District today rejected DJ Spinderella’s requests for immediate relief against Salt-N-Pepa and its management, ordering the case to mediation. We are grateful for the judge’s ruling as Salt-N-Pepa have been extremely generous to Spin over many decades and attempted to settle what amounts to a divorce, both peacefully and without rancor,” Denton, 52, and James, 53, said in a statement to PEOPLE.
“Unfortunately, Spin and her legal team adopted a scorched earth approach that brought unnecessary attention to a business dispute that all along could have, and should have, been settled amicably and privately.”
In addition to alleged unpaid royalties, Roper, 47, also sued Denton and James for multiple breaches of contract, fraud and intentional misrepresentation, according to court documents obtained by The Blast.
“DJ Spinderella became synonymous with, and inseparable from, Salt-N-Pepa’s public identity as she helped boost the all-female SNP trio and brand to legendary iconic status and worldwide fame,” claimed Roper, who first joined the duo in 1987 at age 16.
However, Roper alleged she was cut out of deals as years went by despite generating “significant on-stage excitement” and entertaining “audiences with her captivating musical grooves and remarkable deejay tricks.”
Specifically, Roper claimed she was unaware of the group’s 1999 Best of Salt N Pepa album release amid their ’90s hiatus. The compilation was released in Europe with Roper’s image featured on the album cover allegedly without her consent. Instead, she said she received a call from Denton in 2001 about money from the album.
“Roper was suddenly informed — in an unexpected telephone call from Denton — that James and Denton were holding the sum of $125,000 that would be paid to Roper,” the documents claimed. “No such payment of $125,000 was subsequently made to Roper.”
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Roper also claimed in the lawsuit that she is being “duped” and only receiving “minimal compensation” for the pair’s VH1 show, The Salt-N-Pepa Show.
More recently, Roper alleged she was fired from the group after accepting a deferred compensation agreement.
“On January 4, 2019, within days after Roper accepted the Deferred Compensation Arrangement, Roper received a written notice of termination … by email, which therein purported to completely terminate Roper’s services … following Roper’s ‘last performance with Salt-N-Pepa on December 3, 2018’, ” the lawsuit argued.
Overall, Roper claimed Denton and James “have failed to fully and accurately provide an accounting for, and payment to [her], of her share of the income and royalties realized and received” by the pair, including merchandise sales, commercial marketing of albums, royalties and earnings.
Per the documents, Roper claimed Denton and James “have continuously concealed and failed to fully and accurately account for and pay to Roper her full one-third share of various sources of income and ancillary revenue.”
Reps for Denton and James previously told PEOPLE in a statement: “We will refrain from commenting on Spin’s claims until we’ve had the opportunity to review the complaint. That being said, it’s unfortunate she is choosing to take this path because Salt-N-Pepa have been very good to her, both artistically and financially, for more than 30 years.”
The duo later filed a response to the complaint, calling Roper’s lawsuit a “smear campaign” that ultimately ruined their relationship.
“After decades of friendship, Spinderella has embarked on a smear campaign, and sued her friends, based on blatantly erroneous assertions. The truth, however, is that Salt-N-Pepa have always tried to do right by Spinderella,” court documents obtained by The Blast earlier this week read.
“Spinderella decided to quit performing with Salt-N-Pepa years ago and asked to rejoin the group in December, 2013. Nostalgia and the desire to help a friend motivated Salt-N-Pepa to agree. They offered to pay Spinderella on a per show basis to perform with the group. Spinderella, grateful for the opportunity, agreed, and they performed together again. Things unfortunately did not work out and Salt-N-Pepa spent months trying to close open issues — like how they would each refer to their shared history going forward as they each pursued respective careers — in the hope they could part as friends.”
With Friday’s court decision, the parties now move to settle the lawsuit in mediation.