The situation that Gladys Knight finds herself in is horrible, but it is what it is. The legendary singer is denying that she has Alzheimer’s disease. She’s claiming it’s a fake diagnosis that’s part of a blackmail attempt by HER OWN SON.
Yeah, you read that right, so let that sink in for moment.
As we’ve been reporting, Knight, 72, and her youngest son, Shanga Hankerson, are in down and dirty battle over his usage of her name in his failing chicken and waffles restaurants in Atlanta.
Basically she’s demanding that Hankerson remove her name from his Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles restaurants after he was accused by the government of stealing from the business.
Things between the two got messy as Hankerson moved to block his mother from doing so by claiming she lacked the “mental capacity” to rescind the licensing.
The court documents, filed Thursday (09-29-16) said “Plaintiff’s claims are barred, in whole or in part, [sic] lack of mental capacity to rescind the license agreement granted to Defendants.”
Also on Thursday TMZ reported that Knight claimed her son had blackmailed her by threatening to reveal to the world she has Alzheimer’s — something she denies. She claimed Shanga was attempting to “embarrass and harass” her.
The good news for Knight – if you can call it that – is that she was awarded a default judgement by the court after her son failed to respond to the lawsuit; and that the attempted blackmail was aimed at buying more time.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the situation, here’s the back story: basically Knight has no role in the chicken and waffles business and only allowed her son to use her name under a licensing deal. However, the arrangement soured when the Department of Revenue accused Hankerson of theft and tax evasion in June. Officials allege that Hankerson stole over $650,000 in sales taxes and withheld taxes owed to the state. The total, with penalties and interest, exceeds $1 million dollars.
You can see why Gladys clearly didn’t want her name associated with an operation that was running afoul of the law. Knight subsequently sued her son and his companies, Rival Group, Cascade Foods and Granite Foods. She said she had sent a cease and desist in July to Hankerson.
But despite an Aug. 17 email from Hankerson’s attorney, in which she says Hankerson has “no desire to fight his mother for use of her name,” he has yet to change the branding of the restaurants.
The Daily Mail reports the licensing deal between mother and son lasted ten years but expired in 2009. The pair continued to have an oral licensing arrangement until this year, but after her Shanga’s run-in with the law, Knight wanted out.
Hankerson is now fighting back. He said her lawsuit is a violation of a state court order, and that she has been paid for the use of her name on his restaurants and consequently cannot void their deal.
He is demanding the entire lawsuit be thrown out and his mother pay all the court fees.