WASHINGTON, February 19, 2017 – Perhaps because they make so much money than the rest of us, the rich and famous tend to find themselves in court much more often than those who are not quite so financially well-endowed.
The following cavalcade of lawsuits summarizes some of the most recent legal matters that have entangled a selection of well-known and wealthy celebrities.
Mariah Carey and a South American concert promoter are suing each other: She for breach of contract because the promoter did not pay her in full prior to her scheduled concerts in Argentina and Chile. Because of this, Carey cancelled those concert appearances. For their part, the promoters sued her because, while they did acknowledge her right to cancel, so they say, her failure to perform damaged their brand.
Carey’s attorney argued that “everyone” in the music industry knows the familiar story of deceitful promoters who promise to pay and fail to deliver.
Johnny Depp sued his former management group after his new management group discovered “serious misconduct” by their predecessors. This alleged misconduct included the collection of $28 million in contingent fees the actor never agreed to; failure to file or pay his taxes on time; failing to keep proper books; and loaning nearly $10 million of his money to third parties without authorization.
The former management group counter-sued, claiming Depp spent extravagantly on staff, real estate, and other “oddities.”
Conan O’Brien is facing a copyright claim, with the claimant saying the TV talk show host “stole” five jokes about Tom Brady winning the Super Bowl. O’Brien said that the notion of him stealing someone else’s comedy makes him “physically ill.”
Howard Stern is being sued by a woman whose telephone call with an IRS agent was being overheard on air at the same time Stern was on hold with the agent, waiting to interview him on his show. The agent had called Stern’s show, but, before he was connected, a woman called the agent to discuss her tax situation. The agent never hung up the on his call to Stern. The woman and the agent subsequently spent about 45 minutes discussing highly private financial matters related to her taxes. The entire call was broadcast live by Stern’s staff.
Lance Armstrong is being sued yet again—this time by the Federal government of the United States—for nearly $100 million in damages. The charge: defrauding the government by accepting sponsorship money from the U.S. Postal Service during the time he led the U.S. team to numerous Tour de France victories. Floyd Landis, Armstrong’s former teammate, originally filed the suit in 2010 under the Federal False Claims Act. The Act allows whistle-blowers to pursue fraud cases on behalf of the government and collect rewards if successful.
Beyoncé is being sued for $20 million by a dead person’s estate for allegedly stealing parts of that individual’s songs and using them during concerts and in music videos. The estate of Messy Mya—also known as Anthony M. Barre, a YouTube rap star shot and killed in 2010—claims that had Beyoncé given Barre credit for the portions of her “Formation” track and video they say he created, his popularity would have skyrocketed and he (or his estate) would have earned millions.
Nick Young, an “up and coming star” of professional basketball, was sued by his ex-manager for $700,000, which represented 2 percent of the commission allegedly due for the manager’s securing of Young’s lucrative NBA salary and endorsement deals. Young never responded to the lawsuit, and a judge recently entered a judgment against him.
Rapper “50 Cent” (Curtis Jackson III) is suing two auto shops because they posted unauthorized photos of him and his luxury cars on their Instagram pages.
Dr. Mehmet Oz
Dr. Mehmet Oz must now defend a lawsuit filed by the North American Olive Oil Association. Oz stated that 80 percent of the imported extra virgin olive oil sold in supermarkets in the U.S. “isn’t the real deal” and “may even be fake.” The lawsuit was filed in Georgia under an as-yet-untested law that makes it easier for food companies to sue people who make disparaging remarks about their products.
Katie Couric has asked a federal judge to dismiss a $12 million defamation lawsuit filed against her by Virginia gun rights activists. They claim that in a documentary broadcast report prepared by Couric, the reporter defamed members of their group by including misleading edits of interview footage that involved them.
Couric asked members how felons or terrorists could be prevented from purchasing a gun without background checks. The final cut of the documentary then depicted 10 seconds of silence by the group, implying they had no answer. The Virginia activists claim the interviewees could be heard responding immediately to Couric’s question on the audio portion of the recording, the portion that was edited out. Couric’s attorneys say that even if the edit was not appropriate, it doesn’t rise to the level of defamation.
Madonna is suing her New York co-op over a strict residency requirement. Apparently her children and domestic servants are not allowed inside her $7.3 million unit when she is not there. A “no-nonsense” state Supreme Court judge said Madonna was just like everyone else and that her suit belonged in landlord-tenant court.
Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott
Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott’s financial problems seem to keep getting steadily worse. Citi Bank is now suing them for $200,000, claiming they have not made loan payments on a $400,000 loan dating from 2012. They currently owe $188,000, and Spelling individually is being sued for overdrawing her checking account by $17,000 last September. The couple’s fifth child is on the way.
Jim Carrey is asking a judge to dismiss claims that he gave his suicidal ex-girlfriend sexually transmitted diseases. Cathriona White took a fatal mix of pills in 2015 and died as a result. Her mother is suing Carrey, claiming her daughter killed herself because Carrey lied about giving her STDs. Carrey claims the STD matter is irrelevant because the alleged transmission occurred two years before the suicide.
Rap group Run-DMC has filed a $50 million lawsuit in New York claiming WalMart, Amazon, Jet and other retailers sold products that traded on the group’s name without their permission. Items claimed to have been sold include glasses, hats, t-shirts, patches and wallets. The suit claims the retailers improperly profited from, diluted and harmed the Run-DMC brand.
America’s King of Courts is now President of the United States. Last June, USA Today reported that Trump has been involved in at least 3,500 lawsuits across the United States during the past three decades. The number of cases filed against him were roughly equal to the number of cases he filed against others.
It has been said that Trump uses lawsuits as a routine tactic against any who disagree with him. His legal battles have included opponents ranging from the Federal government to vodka makers. USA Today says that over 70 cases involving Trump were filed in the one-year period dating from when he first announced his candidacy to June 2016.
Virtually every day the news media bristles with reports concerning the litigation squabbles of those possessing significant amounts of wealth. The rich and the famous indeed do have a significant connection to courtrooms both here and occasionally abroad. In a world where money buys power in so many places, it is nice to observe that in the legal arena, even the rich and famous must ultimately be bound by a court’s decision.
Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980. He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website.
His book “The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You” can be instantly downloaded, for free, on his website: http://www.samakowlaw.com/book.
Samakow has now also started a small business consulting firm. His new book “Step By Step, Achieve Small Business Success” is available at www.thebusinessanswer.com.