Martina McBride's Husband and Blackbird Studios Found Guilty of Retaliation by Former Employee

It's a tough time for Martina McBride and her husband, John. After a lengthy process through the legal system, John, as well as the couple's popular Blackbird Studio, has been found guilty of retaliation by a former employee, Richard Hanson. As part of the verdict, Hanson is reportedly to be awarded almost half a million dollars.

Fox 17 in Nashville, which first reported the verdict, stated that Hanson first sued both the McBrides and Blackbird Studios, after he reported unlawful business practices –– including having interns buy groceries and pick up and deliver food orders –– and was subsequently fired after the McBrides discovered he contacted the U.S. Department of Labor. Hanson also alleged that an intern was once required to go to the McBrides' house to check on a possible intruder, with a handgun, even though the intern did not have any experience with any form of firearm.

"It appeared that the primary beneficiaries of [the McBrides'] internship program were [the McBrides] rather than the unpaid interns," Hanson stated in his lawsuit (via The Boot). "Defendants made clear to [Hanson] that its unpaid internship program was a means to get free labor that it would otherwise have to pay employees to perform."

The McBrides have yet to publicly comment on the verdict, but McBride did speak out when the charges were first brought against the couple.

"John and I have created a culture at Blackbird that is familial and supportive of everyone who walks through its doors," McBride said at the time.

Hanson's attorney, Brian Winfrey, did speak out on behalf of his client.

"Rich is a wonderful person, and I was honored to represent him," Winfrey stated. "I respect the jurors decision and commend their service on this important case. Regarding John McBride and Blackbird, no comment."

2020 has been a challenging year for the singer so far. She also lost her beloved mother, Jeanne Schiff, in January, following emergency heart surgery.

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"My mom passed away this morning," McBride shared on social media. "She was a complex and amazing woman. Strong. Chic. No-nonsense. Hilarious. Witty. She had the prettiest hair and skin and hands...I loved her hands. She took good care of us. Our house was always the house where all the aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered, and she was really the reason for that. She made her 4 kids self sufficient, told us to go outside and play, gave us chores to do and taught us how to work.

"She wasn't one to smother you with affection, do your homework for you, or attend every ballgame, but we always knew she was there for us," she continued. "As we all got older we had many conversations about life, faith, morals, health, and the importance of getting your beauty sleep. She'd start every phone call or message with 'Martina. This is your mother.' She loved to laugh and to tell stories to get a laugh. And even though she told me in the hospital that she wasn't 'an enthusiastic cook' she made the best fried chicken I've ever tasted ... I love you Mom."


Photo Credit: Getty / Rick Diamond