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Having written and produced Trick Daddy’s monster hit “Take It To Da House,” South Florida’s Adam Duggins is now taking it to the courthouse. Duggins, 28, a Pembroke Pines, Fla., resident who also goes by the name Righteous Funk Boogie, filed suit late last month in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against Miami music entrepreneur Theodore R. Lucas and Lucas’ two companies, Slip-n-Slide Records and First-n-Gold Publishing. He’s demanding more than $1 million in royalties on hit songs he wrote for two of hip-hop’s hottest stars, Trick Daddy and Trina. Both singers are from Miami’s Liberty City area. According to Duggins’ lawsuit, Duggins wrote and produced many of the songs on Trick Daddy’s first four albums and on Trina’s debut album but was not paid anything close to the sums promised in agreements with Lucas. Duggins also claims that despite an exclusive producer agreement with Lucas’ company signed in 1999, Lucas stopped giving him work and won’t let him out of the contract. The contract, according to Duggins’ attorney, Richard C. Wolfe of Pathman Lewis in Miami, runs until 2005 and does not stipulate that Duggins be paid a dime. “Lucas won’t pay him for his prior work, won’t give him new work and won’t let him work for anyone else,” says Wolfe. “That’s inherently unfair.” According to Wolfe, Duggins has written and produced records for Lucas and his two companies that have sold more than 6 million copies. Among the claims are breach of contract, unjust enrichment, breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing. Stanley H. Wakshlag, a shareholder at Akerman Senterfitt in Miami who is representing Lucas and Lucas’ two companies, denied all of the allegations. “We believe the claims are not well-founded and [are] without merit,” Wakshlag says. “Mr. Lucas, First-n-Gold and Slip-n-Slide will prevail in this case.” According to Wakshlag, Lucas has met all of his financial obligations to Duggins and Duggins should not be let out of his exclusive producer contract with Lucas. “When parties sign contracts they should honor them,” Wakshlag said. Last week, Wolfe filed for an emergency injunction in Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Eleanor L. Schockett’s court demanding that Duggins be free to work for other people. But on Tuesday, Wakshlag effectively put that motion on hold by filing notice to remove the case to U.S. District Court in Miami. He argues that the claims asserted in Duggins’ complaint fall under federal copyright law. Wolfe said he intends to fight removal to federal court. “This is a contract case, not a copyright case,” Wolfe said. In addition to the fight over venue, there are questions about Wolfe having a conflict of interest. According to Wakshlag, beginning in 1999, Wolfe represented the person he is now suing, Lucas. It is unclear how extensively and for how long Wolfe worked for Lucas, but Wakshlag said he is gathering details. Wolfe dismissed the allegation of a conflict of interest by saying his representation included only “a couple of contracts” for Lucas and that it was a “limited engagement.” Wolfe said none of the contracts are agreements at issue in this case. Wolfe claimed that attempts to have him conflicted out of the case or to have the case removed to federal court are efforts to dodge the main issue of whether Duggins was paid fairly and whether Lucas lived up to the exclusive producer agreement. Three weeks ago, Duggins and Lucas appeared on the verge of a settlement, but the deal fell through, Wolfe said. Neither Duggins nor Lucas returned phone calls for comment. According to the complaint, Duggins and Lucas established a business relationship in June 1997 to write and produce recordings for Trick Daddy, then an aspiring young Liberty City musician who had an exclusive recording agreement with Lucas’ Slip-n-Slide Records. The resulting work was Trick Daddy’s “Based On A True Story,” which sold more than 71,000 copies. Duggins claims that he’s owed $323,000 in producer royalties and $36,000 in songwriter royalties from that CD alone. Following the success of “Based On A True Story,” Duggins was involved in Trick Daddy’s next three works: “www.thug.com,” “Book of Thugs” and “Thugs Are Us.” He also was involved in Trina’s album. In 1999, Duggins signed the exclusive producer contract with Lucas. In his lawsuit, Duggins suggests that he has not been paid what is stipulated in the contracts. He also said the contracts were so shabbily constructed that, if not paid by the contract terms, he should be paid under what Wolfe called “industry custom.” “Either way, my client should be paid,” Wolfe said. Among the claims of shoddy contract work, Duggins said that when he signed a music publishing agreement with Lucas, it was part of a contract with a company called “First-n-Goal,” an enterprise that does not exist. The publishing company operated by Lucas is called First-n-Gold. He also claims he signed a producer contract that failed to specify the songwriter royalties and that Lucas himself failed to sign two of the contracts at issue. But Wakshlag responded, “It’s clear to me the contracts are enforceable.” Over the last five years, Trick Daddy, who on Tuesday released his fifth album, “Thug Holiday,” has displaced 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell as Miami’s most famous rap star. He’s emerged as one of the best-selling performers of hip-hop music, and last year his album “Thugs Are Us,” debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart. Trina, who has been called rap’s “It Girl” and was recently featured on the cover of The Source magazine — scantily clad and riding an inflatable shark — has joined the top ranks of hip-hop divas since her debut album, “Da Baddest Bitch.” Wolfe says that Duggins is not writing or producing while he awaits the resolution of his lawsuit against Lucas.

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