5:23pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Ron Tutor Sues Two Law Firms Over Defection of David Bergstein's Lawyer
There's more fallout from the attorney who left film financier David Bergstein's side to go work for David Molner and Aramid Entertainment.
The two law firms -- Stroock and Stroock and Lavan LLP and Levene Neale Bender Yoo & Brill LLP -- that allegedly used confidential information provided by Susan Tregub to aid Molner in his fight against Bergstein have been sued a second time over the affair. This time, the action comes from Miramax co-owner Ronald Tutor, the construction tycoon and former Bergstein partner, who is also quite upset about what happened.
Two weeks ago, the two law firms were hit with a $100 million lawsuit from Bergstein for allegedly aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty by Bergstein's former in-house attorney Tregub, who allegedly began working for Molner and Aramid while she was still his attorney.
The new lawsuit by Tutor picks up where Bergstein's own legal action left off. Why did Tregub leave Bergstein's side?
According to the complaint filed by Tutor, Bergstein and Tregub were having disagreements in 2009, "including a demand by Tregub that Bergstein owed her $100,000."
So allegedly, Tregub began seeking "alternate employment" and was contacted by Molner.
According to the complaint, at that point, Aramid was having its own financial problems, and Molner had his lawyers "embark on a scheme to hide its losses on other nonperforming loans and to cover up the fact that it had inflated the value of its loans to investors."
Molner purportedly went after Bergstein companies, including "waging an aggressive litigation campaign...to detract attention from Aramid's performance problems.
"Molner sought to obtain spectacularly high rates and fees from Bergstein entities...by providing outrageously large loan payoff amounts, refusing to renegotiate and/or by conditioning refinancing upon the execution of a 'global deal' involving the loans made to several Bergstein related entities," says the complaint. "The global deal proposed by Molner and Aramid was a brazen attempt to turn loan balances of approximately $20 million owed by several entities into a $75 million package deal, including interest rates as high as 50 percent per annum, and to cover loans of other non-Bergstein related entities that were not performing."
After the deal was rejected, the companies controlled by Bergstein were forced into involuntary bankruptcy.
It was at that point, says Tutor, that Molner got Tregub on board to join the "scorched earth battle," with the law firms' "material assistance."
Stroock and Levene Neale allegedly asked Tregub's help in the litigation and bankruptcy proceedings. Tutor says that Tregub also previously represented him, his company Library Asset Acquisition Company, and had access to his own confidential documents.
"Defendants, as attorneys themselves were perfectly aware of Tregub's professional, contractual and ethical duties to her clients, and yet, they ignored their own duties as attorneys and officers of the court to improperly advance the interests of Molnar for their own financial and professional gain," says the complaint.
Molner isn't a defendant here. The two law firms are accused of aiding and abetting Tregub's "conceded" breach of fiduciary duty as well as committing alleged intentional interference with contractual relations and unjust enrichment.
The law firms haven't yet responded to comment, but we'll update if we hear anything.