3:38pm PT by Ashley Cullins
Paz de la Huerta's Lawyer Can't Prove Another Lawyer Wrongfully Interfered in Client Relationship, Judge Rules
Paz de la Huerta's lawyer says another attorney improperly interfered with their relationship as an alleged agent of Harvey Weinstein, but a California federal judge isn't buying it.
Aaron Filler in February 2018 sued Michael Rubin, claiming that after de la Huerta asked him to represent her in her claims against Weinstein, Rubin interfered in the matter. Filler claims Rubin tried to trick the actress into waiving her patient-doctor privilege with regard to psychotherapy records and and her attorney-client privilege in an effort to publicly discredit her.
Rubin filed an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that he's being sued for consulting a prospective client who was looking for a lawyer, which is protected activity, and called the claim that he was an agent of Weinstein's an "unsubstantiated conspiracy theory."
U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Wilson found that Filler's suit arises from protected conduct in connection with legal proceedings and it's irrelevant that de la Huerta eventually chose not to hire Rubin — and that Filler failed to prove he will succeed on his claims.
Wilson found that Filler's claim for tortious interference with a contractual relationship fails because de la Huerta had the right to discharge him at any time, and that Rubin's alleged actions were merely "competitive conduct" in an effort to convince the actress to hire him. The judge also rejected Filler's claim for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage fail because no wrongful conduct is alleged.
"It is telling that Plaintiff did not attach any declarations or other evidence from De La Huerta, who remains a client of Plaintiff on numerous matters which includes a civil case against Weinstein, about the initiation of communications between De La Huerta and Defendant," writes Wilson. "Without any allegations from Plaintiff as to how Defendant and De La Huerta initiated their discussions about prospective representation, there is no basis to conclude that Defendant engaged in any improper conduct in his attempt to solicit De La Huerta’s business."
Wilson also ordered Filler to show cause as to why he shouldn't be sanctioned for "advancing frivolous arguments" with regard to his claim that Rubin illegally practiced law in California without a license, which was based on one phone call from Rubin to Fuller (who was in California at the time).
The court is giving Fuller one last shot to amend his claim for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage by pleading additional facts, including any that "would establish an agency relationship between Rubin and Weinstein." The other two claims are dismissed with prejudice. (Read the details below.)
Filler on Thursday sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement in response to the decision. "Fundamentally, we believe that the Anti-SLAPP procedure adds to the difficulty of demonstrating a subterfuge, because it requires an assessment of the existence of a subterfuge before the Federal Rule 26 process allows full discovery (requests for production, subpoenas, depositions)," said Filler via email. "We have argued that Harvey Weinstein engaged in subterfuges – employing, for instance K2 Intelligence and Black Cube to engage in subterfuges. It has been and is our belief that this episode was in the context of such a subterfuge, but the Court here differs in its assessment."
April 11, 5:00 p.m. Updated with a statement from Aaron Filler.