Mariah Carey’s brother Morgan Carey has filed a lawsuit against her in New York’s supreme court, alleging “defamation and the intentional infliction of emotional distress” arising from her memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey.
He is the second Carey family member to sue her over the book, following Mariah’s sister Alison, who described it as containing “cruel and outrageous allegations” about her.
Morgan’s action calls for the payment of unspecified damages, and seeks “a judicial determination that many of the passages in [the memoir] … are false and defamatory”. It claims the book caused Morgan “serious damage to his reputation and to his personal and business affairs” and “extreme mental anguish”, and that it negatively affected negotiations for a feature film he was developing.
In the book, Mariah describes a violent fight between Morgan and their father, writing: “I witnessed the possibility that a member of my family could brutally die in front of my eyes”. Morgan says “this cliched and racially charged portrayal of two Black males engaged in a physical struggle never happened”. He accuses Mariah of attempting to “play the victim card and curry favour with the Black Lives Matter movement”.
Mariah alleges Morgan physically abused their mother, which he says is “a false and defamatory lie”.
She also alleges that “there was no telling what [Morgan] might do for money”, and that he “accepted a $1,200 advance” when an acquaintance, Virginia Carole Maddox, attempted to hire him to murder her husband in 1980. Maddox later carried out the killing herself, and was convicted of murder.
Morgan admitted the payment when testifying against Maddox in court. His legal action complains that “[the memoir] states as a fact that plaintiff accepted money as payment to murder someone” and clarifies his involvement: “When he learned of Maddox’s claim to have mistakenly shot her husband, believing him to have been an intruder, plaintiff immediately contacted the prosecuting attorney … [he] voluntarily testified before the grand jury, leading to Maddox’s indictment, conviction and incarceration for murder.”
Morgan also rejects Mariah’s description of him as a “sometimes drug dealing, been-in-the-system, drunk-ass brother”, and the allegation that “his rage was unpredictable”. He claims he was not approached before the book’s publication to comment on the allegations in it.
The legal action follows a similar filing from Mariah’s sister Alison, who accused Mariah of causing her “heartless, vicious, vindictive, despicable and totally unnecessary public humiliation” with her memoir. Mariah alleged that Alison left her with third-degree burns after she threw a cup of boiling-hot tea on her back, offered her drugs and sedated her with Valium.
She also alleges that Alison left her in a vulnerable position, aged 12, with Alison’s boyfriend, who attempted to kiss her. “Big sisters are supposed to protect you – not pimp you out,” Mariah writes. Alison described the book as containing “lurid claims”.
Mariah Carey has not commented on either of the lawsuits. The Guardian has contacted her US representatives for comment.
With its conversational yet vivid and painterly tone, peppered with deadpan wit, The Meaning of Mariah Carey – co-written with Michaela Angela Davis – was widely admired by critics when it was published last October. The New Yorker described it as “incisive, entertaining, and impressively well-written”, and Rolling Stone called it an “instant classic of pop diva lit”.
As well as the criticism of her family members, her first husband Tommy Mottola is described as heavily controlling in the book. Mariah compares their marital home to the maximum security prison Sing Sing, and writes: “It’s hard to explain, to put into words how I existed in my relationship with Tommy Mottola. It’s not that there are no words, it’s just that they still get stuck moving up from my gut, or they disappear into the thickness of my anxiety.”
In his own 2013 memoir, Mottola wrote: “If it seemed like I was controlling, let me apologise again. Was I obsessive? Yes. But that was also part of the reason for her success.” In a statement ahead of the publication of The Meaning of Mariah Carey, he said he wished “her and her family only the very best”.
A surprise revelation in Mariah’s memoir is that one of the most glamorous women in pop and R&B secretly toyed with the grubbier sound of grunge in the 1990s, writing alt-rock songs for the band Chick. She wrote that she was jealous of female rockers: “They could be angry, angsty and messy, with old shoes, wrinkled slips and unruly eyebrows, while every move I made was so calculated and manicured. I wanted to break free, let loose and express my misery – but I also wanted to laugh.”