Bergstein blames former lawyer for getting him into this messThu Mar 25, 2010 @ 06:17PM PST
By Matthew Belloni
EXCLUSIVE: Beleaguered film exec David Bergstein is blaming his former lawyer for getting him into hot water with creditors.
Bergstein, business associate Ron Tutor and related Bergstein entities today sued attorney Susan Tregub, claiming that she used knowledge she gained from repping Bergstein and his companies to embark on a campaign to hurt him, including allowing an unspecified lawsuit against Bergstein to go into default and contacting creditors to urge them to file involuntary bankruptcy proceedings against some of the entities.
Bergstein creditors filed bankruptcy papers on March 17 and successfully stopped a sale of rights to more than 800 movies that are part of the Capitol, ThinkFilm, Franchise and other film libraries. The federal bankruptcy court in Los Angeles has set March 30 for a hearing on whether to appoint a trustee to take over for Bergstein and current management as requested.
Bergstein and Co. now blame Tregub, a one-time right-hand woman for their various companies, for getting them into this situation by violating her attorney-client duties.
“Tregub even went so far as to review, edit and approve the petitions at the behest of counsel for the alleged creditors,” the lawsuit says.
“I deny all allegations that I in any way breached my fiduciary duties,” Tregub said in an interview. “What is happening to (Bergstein) now is a mere culmination of his misdeeds and his misconduct that people are now choosing to make him pay for. This has nothing to do with me.”
David Molner, managing director of Screen Capital International and the Aramid Entertainment Fund, who played a key role in gathering together the creditors group seeking to force an involuntary bankruptcy, said the group will file opposition papers tomorrow.
The complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, describes a close relationship between Tregub and both Bergstein and Tutor. She repped the Bergstein entities, including ThinkFilm and Capitol, in various deals, and repped Tutor in the bankruptcy of Franchise Films. Although Tregub had her own law firm, for many years Bergstein and his businesses were major clients.
But beginning in mid-2009, Tregub allegedly became unhappy and by early this year she had “threatened Bergstein that if plaintiffs did not pay her the amount she contended was owed to her, she would ‘bring (Bergstein) down’ because she knew 'where all the bodies are buried,’ “ according to the suit.
Bergstein says he refused to give in to the extortion.
“The defendant in this case did that which we are instructed on the very first day of law school not to do,” the lawsuit says. “She has breached that fundamental obligation by disclosing attorney client privileged information to gain an economic benefit, and sadly, for revenge.”
Tregub said she plans to fire back at Bergstein with a lawsuit of her own.
“I will file an appropriate legal claim against Mr. Bergstein and seek whatever remedial relief is available for the damage he has done to me and my reputation,” she said.
Alex Ben Block contributed to this report.