September 10, 2012 11:05am PT by Eriq Gardner
Stephen Baldwin Sues Kevin Costner's Lawyer Over Oil Spill Cleanup Buyout
Stephen Baldwin is now blaming Kevin Costner's lawyer for the decision to cash out of an oil spill cleanup company just as BP was placing a $52 million order to help manage the Deepwater Horizon spill.
In June, Baldwin and fellow partner Spyridon Contogouris failed to convince a jury that Costner and some of the actor's business associates were liable for tricking them into giving up shares in Ocean Therapies Solutions (OTS), which marketed a technology Costner had developed in the 1990s.
The plaintiffs haven't let this go. Baldwin and Contogouris have demanded a new trial because of excluded evidence. Now, the two have filed a $10 million lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, alleging that Daniel Grigsby demonstrated professional negligence and breached fiduciary duties by concealing BP's order at the same time the attorney was drafting the buyout agreements for Baldwin and Contogouris.
Grigsby is a Los Angeles-based attorney whose clients include sports teams like the Lakers, production companies and lots of work for Costner.
In May and June of 2010, the months after Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and dumped massive amounts of oil in the Gulf of America, OTS reorganized. Some discord erupted within OTS' ranks, and as Costner testified before Congress, there was some question about whether BP was going to make an order for his oil separation technology.
Baldwin and Contogouris say that they were led to believe that things weren't going to work out. Contogouris says he attempted to contact Costner without success. The two plaintiffs say that Costner and his gang held secret meetings behind their backs.
Ultimately, on June 11, Baldwin and Contogouris entered into a buyout agreement where Contogouris conveyed his 28 percent interest in OTS for $1.4 million and Baldwin transferred his 10 percent interest for $500,000.
The decision to cash out was supposedly based upon impressions that BP had not made a purchase order. These impressions allegedly came from direct statements made by Grigsby in the days right before the buyout.
The lawsuit says that "Grigsby's previous legal work on behalf of OTS entailed acting in the capacity of attorney for OTS. He thus owned a fiduciary duty to Contogouris and Baldwin as members of OTS."
The lawsuit goes onto to say, "As a result of his legal work on behalf of OTS, Grigsby knew on June 10, 2010 that OTS was in the final stages of negotiating a $52 million contract with BP, including a $18.2 million upfront deposit. This contract alone would render the fair market value of OTS well in excess of the $5 million upon which the terms of the Buyout were based. Yet Grigsby failed to inform either Contogouris or Baldwin of the pending nature of this contract."
Baldwin and Contogouris say the buyout agreement that was drafted by Grigsby is a "sham" and that he helped establish a secret bank account to "park" the $18.2 million upfront purchase without the plaintiff's knowledge. The two now want damages, saying that Grigsby and his law firm of Jeffer Mangels had a conflict of interest and "wrongfully manipulated" them into selling out.
Grigsby wasn't immediately available for comment.
During the trial, Costner testified that OTS had become "dysfunctional" with Baldwin as a shareholder and said, "I never saw him do anything."