9:27am PT by Eriq Gardner
David Bergstein's $50 Million Lawsuit Against Second Ex-Lawyer Dismissed
David Bergstein, the embattled film financier, isn't as fortunate pursuing Lawyer No. 2 as he was Lawyer No. 1.
Two weeks after winning $50 million in damages against his former in-house attorney Susan Tregub for breaching fiduciary duties and committing malpractice by disclosing his confidential information, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has crossed out his second $50 million lawsuit against attorney Teri Zimon, a close confidant of Tregub.
Judge Alan Rosenfield has just dismissed the lawsuit against Zimon because the statute of limitations had run its course.
Bergstein has been pursuing attorneys on claims they helped nemesis Aramid Entertainment Fund dig up dirt on him with the interest of forcing his companies into bankruptcy.
The claims were successful in a jury trial against Tregub, formerly an attorney at Capitol Films, who then began working for David Molner's Aramid in 2009. In that case, the jury saw e-mails where Tregub stated that her computer would end up at the bottom of her pool before she'd produce documents for Bergstein's benefit in court.
Bergstein is hoping to use his win against Tregub, who likely can't pay a monetary judgment, as precedent in other lawsuits against deep-pocketed attorneys and accountants, who he believes caused the financial problems associated with film companies ThinkFilm, Capitol and others. He's seeking $100 million from two Los Angeles firms: Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and Levene Neale Bender Yoo & Brill.
Zimon is another Bergstein target who allegedly used private information to aid his creditors in the involuntary bankruptcy proceeding. She was hired to handle certain litigation for Bergstein at Tregub's recommendation.
But this effort has failed because the judge agrees with the defendant that the claims are barred by the statute of limitations.
"There is ample evidence that Plaintiffs knew the basis for the breach of fiduciary duty claims before April 2010 and well before one year before Plaintiffs filed suit," wrote Judge Rosenfield in his ruling.
Bergstein's side argued there was actual fraud, which California law carves out of the one-year limit on a malpractice claim. But pointing to the fact that Bergstein never alleged any affirmative misrepresentations of fact on Zimon's part, the judge determines that Zimon "makes the stronger argument that Plaintiffs have not alleged actual fraud and that the gravamen of the complaint is breach of fiduciary duty."
The ruling (which can be read on next page) is eligible to be appealed.
Brandon Reif, the attorney for Zimon, tells THR he is pleased with the outcome.
"Ms. Zimon is relieved that this meritless lawsuit was dismissed by the court," he says. "Ms. Zimon worked zealously and diligently to protect Mr. Bergstein’s interests while serving as in-house attorney. This lawsuit was retaliation for Ms. Zimon exercising her right to pursue her just and owing compensation from Mr. Bergstein and certain of his entities. The court’s ruling likely signals the turning of the tides to persons and entities that Mr. Bergstein has been bullying around in court."
E-mail: [email protected]; Twitter: @eriqgardner