June 22, 2012 1:05pm PT by Alex Ben Block
David Bergstein Fires Back at Aramid in Latest Lawsuit
Embattled film investor David Bergstein returned legal fire at Aramid Entertainment Fund, David Molner and others in a new lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court charging breach of contract, promissory fraud and more.
The legal action, the latest in a flurry of suits filed by Bergstein and his former business partner Ronald Tutor, is an off-shoot of motions granted by a federal court earlier this week that dismissed a number of claims made by Aramid in an involuntary bankruptcy case involving Capitol, ThinkFilm and other companies formerly managed by Bergstein, and at one time owned by Tutor.
Tutor is CEO of the construction company Tutor Perini, as well as a major investor in Miramax. He has been attempting to unravel his film business interests, and lawsuits are part of that strategy.
Jeffrey Garfinkle, an attorney who represents Tutor, told The Hollywood Reporter previously that he had been waiting for the federal court rulings to follow up with civil suits in state court that would charge Aramid, Molner and others with violating a release they had signed after being paid $3 million to settle one of the cases, involving ThinkFilm.
Aramid has taken the position that the release pertained only to one company and that the company has the right to purse other actions beyond the settlement of loans made to ThinkFilm.
In the latest filing by Bergstein and his corporations including Graybox, MM Media Acquisition Co, TFC Library, Zoopraxis, Pangea Media Group and others, Aramid is alleged to have “specifically agreed not to assert any claims” after that release was signed but instead has “done nothing but sue plaintiffs for the past two years, repeatedly asserting already released claims in a series of lawsuits and bankruptcy cases.”
The lawsuit charges that Aramid did this “in order to further the bogus narrative that someone else, other than [Aramid], has cheated their investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars. This action seeks to recover the amounts [Bergstein and his companies] have lost and expended as a result of…tortuous conduct.”
The suit says Aramid made nine loans to Bergstein and his companies at interest rates from 15 percent per year to 100 percent, all of which were repaid when a company owned by Tutor, Library Asset Acquisition Corp. purchased the loans. Aramid and Molner allegedly “engaged in misconduct relating to various loan transactions” that included asserting that Bergstein and Tutor undertook sham loan transactions.
After a hearing in federal bankruptcy court Judge Barry Russell signed five motions sustaining objections by Bergstein and Tutor. The lawsuit now seeks to hold Aramid, Molner and the others responsible for “millions in damages suffered by” Bergstein and his companies.
Molner has issued the following response to the lawsuit to THR:
“This lawsuit apes recent motions brought in the bankruptcy and continues the cherished Tutor-Bergstein tradition of filing lawsuits instead of admitting they stole money and went gambling with it. They deliberately defaulted on a whole raft of loans in order to create a “distressed” bonanza for themselves – they did the same thing to other film libraries (including Intermedia) and in other businesses. By Tutor’s own estimates, they have now spent more on litigation than the principal amounts owing our loans when the petitions were filed two years ago. This endless litigation is not a sideshow for them, it is what they do. The reason they do it is that 98% of people give up when confronted by it. Even casual observers appreciate this about them and their malicious mode of operating.”