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Fifty Shades publisher must set aside £6.9m in royalties battle

Published 28/08/2015

A Texas judge has told lawyers for an Australian woman and her publishing company to set aside 10 million US dollars (£6.4m) for a former business partner who says she was defrauded out of her rightful share from the sale of the erotic best-seller trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey.

State District Judge Susan McCoy said she wants the money deposited in a court registry by September 25 as lawyers seek to negotiate a judgment amount for Jennifer Pedroza, who lives in Dallas.

A jury earlier this year determined that Amanda Hayward, one of Pedroza's former business partners in e-book publisher The Writers Coffee Shop, cut Pedroza out of her share of royalties from the 40 million dollar (£25.9m) sale of the EL James trilogy to Random House. Hayward reached a settlement with another woman involved in the venture. The terms of that deal were sealed.

The trilogy's first volume flew off of the shelves when it was released in 2011, and the three books have sold more than 125 million copies worldwide and spawned a film starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, with two sequels also planned.

According to court records, Pedroza says Hayward used "chicanery" to cheat her out of her rightful share. Accountants have determined that Pedroza's 25% stake in the online publishing venture was worth approximately 10.7 million dollars (£6.9m).

Pedroza's lawyer, Michael Farris, said Hayward restructured the venture to effectively make Pedroza an independent contractor and then sacked her. He said Pedroza has had to return to teaching, and now works at a Fort Worth elementary school.

Hayward's lawyer Robert Kantner, said his client plans to appeal.

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