A Los Angeles judge has ordered Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who sued President Donald Trump on behalf of porn star Stormy Daniels, to pay $4.85 million to a former contract attorney at his firm, according to the lawyer who brought the case.
The contract attorney, Jason Frank, resigned from Avenatti’s former firm in 2016 after claiming he was owed millions of dollars in unpaid compensation, according to court records. The judge’s order came from the bench at a hearing on Monday, noted Frank’s lawyer, Eric George of Los Angeles-based Browne George Ross.
“If he doesn’t pay this right away, this is a debt that will follow him for years, if not decades,” George said of Avenatti. “There’s no evading this.”
Avenatti, a solo practitioner in Newport Beach, California, confirmed the judgment but insisted that Frank owes him $12 million.
George countered by stating not only that Avenatti has “never brought any such claim against Jason Frank, he never could bring any such claim because he released all claims against Jason Frank as part of his bankruptcy court settlement.”
According to court documents, that settlement was between Avenatti’s former law firm, Eagan Avenatti, and Frank and his current partners at Irvine, California’s Frank Sims & Stolper. Under the settlement, reached as part of Eagan Avenatti’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Santa Ana, California, Avenatti’s former firm was supposed to pay $10 million. But Frank’s firm agreed to $4.85 million under a specific timeline of installments.
After Avenatti’s former firm didn’t pay up, Jason Frank Law PLC brought a motion for judgment. On May 22, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Catherine Bauer entered a $10 million judgment against Eagan Avenatti in favor of Jason Frank Law, represented by Perkins Coie in the bankruptcy case.
Monday’s award came in a separate case that Jason Frank Law brought for breach of guaranty against Avenatti personally.
“To the extent that Mr. Avenatti’s law firm personally generates income, my client will be entitled to that,” George said. “To the extent Mr. Avenatti personally comes across any income, my client will been entitled to that, as well.”