Actor Johnny Depp has accused his former lawyers at the Beverly Hills, California-based Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman of negligence and illegally collecting millions of dollars in contingent legal fees.
Depp, the star of major Hollywood movies including “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Edward Scissorhands,” filed a legal malpractice lawsuit in Los Angeles state court on Tuesday, targeting Bloom Hergott and firm lawyer Jacob Bloom, who had represented the actor from 1999 until early this year.
Depp tapped Adam Waldman of The Endeavor Law Firm in Washington, D.C., to file the malpractice suit, along with lawyers from Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner in D.C., and local counsel from Buckley Sandler’s office in Santa Monica, California.
The complaint alleges that Bloom and his firm engaged in self-dealing, failed to disclose conflicts of interest, and collected some $30 million in contingency-based fees from representing Depp in various matters, despite lacking a written contract as required under California law. All of that alleged conduct helped put the actor’s finances into a state of turmoil, according to the suit.
“Like many successful artists who depend upon professionals to advise them, Mr. Depp trusted and reasonably relied on defendants, as his attorneys, to handle his legal affairs competently and ethically,” the complaint said. “Instead of protecting Mr. Depp’s interests, defendants engaged in misconduct for their own financial benefit and violated some of the most basic tenets of the attorney-client relationship, all to Mr. Depp’s serious financial detriment.”
An assistant reached in Bloom’s office at Bloom Hergott said on Wednesday that the firm and the lawyer has no comment regarding Depp’s complaint.
The malpractice suit follows a related complaint that Depp, represented by Waldman along with a team from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, filed early this year against his former business managers at The Mandel Company Inc., which does business as The Management Group (TMG).
That suit accused TMG of raking in more than $28 million in fees from the actor, even while the business managers allegedly failed to do basic tasks, such as filing Depp’s taxes on time and keeping accurate records of his finances. It also alleged that the business managers effectively “treated Mr. Depp’s income as their own,” investing the actor’s money in businesses in which TMG held an ownership stake.
In the wake of the suit, The Wall Street Journal reported in August that the U.S. Department of Justice and IRS were looking into possible fraud and money laundering at TMG, while the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly investigating how the company managed Depp’s finances.
In the legal malpractice suit, Depp alleges that Bloom and his law firm should have picked up on and told the actor about TMG’s alleged conduct.
TMG, represented by Michael Kump of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert, has forcefully responded to Depp’s claims against the company, filing a countercomplaint that portrays the actor as a reckless spender who ignored his business advisers’ admonitions. TMG alleges in the countersuit that during the 17 years it represented Depp, the actor “lived an ultra-extravagant lifestyle” that often cost him more than $2 million per month to sustain.
“TMG repeatedly warned and advised Depp to reduce his spending and sell unnecessary assets. But ultimately, the decision whether and how to spend his money was a decision for Depp to make,” TMG alleges in the countersuit. “Depp listened to no one, including TMG and his other advisors, and he demanded they fund a lifestyle that was extravagant and extreme.”