Glaser firm says Rod Stewart owes $3.3 mil in fees; why no written retainer?

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Glaser firm says Rod Stewart owes $3.3 mil in fees; why no written retainer?

Tue Nov 17, 2009 @ 07:02PM PST

By Matthew Belloni

Stewart,rod Patty Glaser's entertainment law firm sued former client Rod Stewart today in LA Superior Court, alleging the rocker owes $3.3 million in unpaid fees for representation over a six year period.

Interestingly, the suit, filed by Century City's Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard & Shapiro, claims the firm represented Stewart as litigators for more than 20 years on at least 19 different matters without once obtaining a signed retainer agreement.

Really? That's pretty amazing. Talent dealmakers, who typically take a percentage of a client's earnings, routinely fail to get signed retainers. But litigators, who generally work on an hourly fee basis, almost always spell out the terms of the representation in a contract the client must sign.

For whatever reason, that never happened. Now the Glaser firm says it repped Stewart and his loan-out company Annoyances, Ltd in three cases from March 2001 through December 2007, and it wants to get paid. The cases:

  • A long-running contract dispute between Stewart and the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas stemming from the cancellation of a 2000 concert. The firm says it sent bills to Stewart's business manager/deal lawyer Barry Tyerman, who paid $1.2 million on the matter but has failed to pay the remaining $2.19 million.
  • A 5-year case against Stewart, Tyerman and two others brought by a concert promoter for fraud, interference and other claims. That litigation went to trial and an appeal. Stewart allegedly paid $412,938 in fees but still owes $960,345 on the matter.
  • A 2-year case brought by RKO Pictures against Stewart for trademark infringement and other claims. That case went to mediation and Stewart paid the firm $100K but still allegedly owes $158,955.

The firm claims Stewart agreed orally to pay the fees even though there was never a written contract.

"For more than 20 years and over the course of 19 different matters, defendants raised no objection to the absence of a retainer agreement," the complaint says. "Defendants accepted plaintiff's billable rates by paying those bills."

The 5-count complaint demands $3,309,871.34 plus interest and costs. The firm is repped by Jonathan Cole and Vincent Green of Nemecek & Cole in Sherman Oaks.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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