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Wednesday, May 19, 2010
EXCLUSIVE: Explosive New Farrah Fawcett Lawsuit | RadarOnline.com
Oh, what a tangled web of Los Angeles-based litigation.
The legal battles spun off from NBC's controversial documentary Farrah's Story—which played to about 9 million viewers during last year's May sweeps—continue to unfold in Los Angeles County Superior Court six weeks prior to the one-year anniversary of Farrah Fawcett's death from anal cancer at age 62.
Radar Online reports that the documentary's exec producer, Craig Nevius, is suing L.A.-based law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp (MSK), claiming negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. Nevius alleges MSK--which once repped his and Fawcett's joint production company, Sweetened by Risk LLC (SBR)--"possessed an actual conflict of interest" in later repping defendants in litigation the producer brought last year.
Nevius claims that in summer 2008 he and Fawcett fired one of the firm's lawyers, Kim Swartz, for his "lackadaisical and inattentive representation" during the documentary's licensing negotiations with NBC.
Last May, Nevius sued Fawcett's longtime lover, Ryan O'Neal, business manager Richard B. Francis and Farrah's Story co-producer Alana Stewart, alleging the trio conspired to wrestle control of the NBC special away from him while a cancer-ravaged Fawcett lay on her deathbed. Francis, as trustee of Fawcett's estate, countersued Nevius in January, alleging the filmmaker invaded Fawcett's privacy while mismanaging the TV project and her money--claims Nevius has also made against Francis, O'Neal and Stewart.
Fawcett died on June 25, 2009.
"For almost one year, MSK represented and had confidential attorney-client communications with Nevius... regarding SBR, the Program and NBC (who aired Farrah's Story)," Nevius claims in his new suit.
MSK, his filing continues, "failed to exercise reasonable care and skill and acted in negligent manner with respect to their duty of loyalty owed to Plaintiffs, by among other things, taking an adverse position with respect to issues concerning ownership and control of SBR, acting as counsel of record for Francis and O'Neal in the Action, refusing to voluntarily withdraw as counsel of record in the Action and forcing Plaintiffs to pursue a motion to disqualify in order remove Defendants as counsel of record in the Action."
Last September, the Los Angeles County Superior Court disqualified MSK from repping O'Neal and Francis. "MSK cannot take sides in a dispute among [SBR] owners/members, nor be in a position where it must argue the veracity and credibility of its own attorneys," the court ruled. "By representing [Francis and O'Neal], [MSK] is taking sides in the dispute over [SBR]'s ownership and control."
As of this blog posting, Radar reported MSK had not responded to requests for comment.