A Los Angeles state court jury handed film financier David Bergstein a $50 million win this week in his case against his former attorney, Susan Tregub. The award includes a $49.5 million compensatory verdict handed down on Tuesday and another $500,000 in punitive damages on Wednesday. Bergstein, who’s companies have included Capitol Films and ThinkFilm, first sued Tregub back in March 2010. His most recent complaint, filed by Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp, alleges that Tregub used confidential information to help Bergstein’s rivals force his companies into bankruptcy after she’d served as his in-house lawyer for almost a decade. Around the time the complaint was filed, Bernstein was vying to secure a slice of one of the biggest Hollywood deals in 2010–The Walt Disney Co.’s $660 million sale of Miramax Corp. As with any Hollywood tale, there have been plenty of plot twists in the snarl of litigation springing from the bankruptcies and the Miramax deal. The folks at The Hollywood Reporter have done their best to keep up with the drama here, here, here, and here. Bergstein sued another of his lawyers, Teri Zimon, in August 2011, seeking $50 million over claims that she colluded with Tregub. And in April, he went after the outside lawyers that allegedly gleaned confidential material from the insiders. Bergstein filed this 52-page complaint targeting Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, Levene Neale Bender Yoo & Brill, and an in-house lawyer at a rival film finance company, alleging that they solicited and took privileged information from Tregub to give their clients’ an edge in litigation and bankruptcy proceedings. (The National Law Journal’s Amanda Bronstad reported on the case in April.) Alex Weingarten of Weingarten Brown, who represents Bergstein in the suit against Stroock, said Tuesday’s verdict in the Tregub case was “a tremendous development.” Weinstein called the case against Tregub “the other side of the same coin” of Bergstein’s case against Stroock, and he said that much of the email traffic used as evidence in the trial would come up again if his own case makes it to jury. Mitchell Silberberg’s Lucia Coyoca, who represented Bergstein at trial this week and also represents him in the Stroock suit, said “the emails are pretty mind-boggling in terms of the extent of the involvement” of the defendants. Stroock and the other defendants in Weingarten’s case have filed anti-SLAPP motions and demurrers in hopes of knocking out the complaint. Those motions are set to be argued before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Linfield at a hearing scheduled for mid-September.
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