Brown Rudnick LLP Successfully Prosecutes Case for Johnny Depp, Gains Favorable Settlement with His Former Law Firm Bloom Hergott
PUBLISHED ON: 11/08/2019
ORANGE COUNTY, CA – November 8, 2019 – Brown Rudnick LLP successfully litigated a large civil action for award-winning actor Johnny Depp against his former law firm, Bloom Hergott, and secured an eight-figure settlement in Mr.Depp's favor on October 30, 2019.
The case, styled John C. Depp, II, et al. v. Bloom Hergott, was filed on October 17, 2017, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, legal malpractice and breach of section 6147 of the California Business and Professions Code, which requires contingency fee agreements involving lawyers to be in writing. For decades this statute has been "observed in the breach," with lawyers making oral contracts with prominent actors and musicians pursuant to which the lawyers have taken a fixed percentage of their celebrity clients' income regardless of the quality or quantity of the work provided.
As a direct result of this case, Bloom Hergott, once a top Hollywood entertainment law firm, closed its doors and reconstituted without Defendant Jake Bloom or other name partner, Alan Hergott, who retired.
The settlement marks the complete vindication of Depp’s claims as well as Brown Rudnick’s work for him. The case has also inspired other celebrity talent, including Cardi B., Lil Wayne and Oprah’s producer to file similar claims based on Brown Rudnick’s success in the Depp case.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry A. Green issued a landmark decision on August 28, 2018, granting Depp's motion for judgment on the pleadings, ruling that Bloom Hergott's oral contingency fee agreement pursuant to which it took in excess of $30 million from Depp violated Section 6147, rendering it subject to disgorgement. This decision will forever change the way business is done in Hollywood, effectively abolishing the "handshake deal" protocol which led to the exploitation of talented actors and musicians by their lawyers.
“This is another great result for Johnny, and one that will change the way business is done for the better in Hollywood,” said Benjamin G. Chew, Brown Rudnick's lead partner on the case. “Through Judge Green's decision, Johnny established a precedent that should prevent other artists from being victimized by their attorneys using improper oral contingency fee contracts."
On August 28, 2019, Judge Green also denied Bloom Hergott's motion for partial summary judgment, rejecting the defendants' statute of limitations argument and finding that Bloom Hergott had continuously represented Depp on a holistic basis, not matter by matter, and that therefore none of Depp's claims was time barred.
The cross-office and multi-disciplinary team at Brown Rudnick was led by Benjamin G. Chew (litigation and arbitration) in Washington, D.C., Randall A. Smith (litigation), Ronald Rus (litigation), Camille M. Vasquez (litigation) and Samuel A. Moniz (litigation) in Orange County. Co-counsel consisted of Robert B. Gilmore and Kevin L. Attridge at Stein Mitchell and Adam R. Waldman of the Endeavor Law Firm, P.C.
About Brown Rudnick LLP
At Brown Rudnick, we combine ingenuity with experience to achieve great outcomes for our clients. We deliver partner-driven service; we incentivize our lawyers to collaborate in the client’s best interest; and we put excellence before scale, focusing on practices such as corporate restructuring and distressed situations, M&A, white collar defense, international disputes and intellectual property, where we are recognized leaders. We have more than 250 lawyers and government relations professionals across the United States and Europe, with offices in key financial centers. Beyond the United States and Europe, we serve clients in the Middle East, North Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.