June 14, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Judge rules that lawyers can pursue unpaid fees in Sterling-Cohen case

A judge ruled today the law firm that represented an actress when she won $17.3 million from Donald Sterling after a fire in her
apartment in a building he owned can pursue a lawsuit against her for $760,000 in allegedly unpaid legal services.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin said he disagreed with arguments by attorneys for Robyn Cohen that the firm of Katz & Yoon did not provide enough details in its lawsuit for the case to move forward.

However, Fruin took under submission a separate dismissal motion by attorneys for the actress. It asks that the lawsuit be tossed and that the firm be fined nearly $12,000 for allegedly bringing a frivolous lawsuit to harass Cohen.

Fruin said that if he denies the second dismissal motion, he may stay the case pending the outcome of Cohen’s appeal of another judge’s decision to order a retrial of Cohen’s case against Sterling.

Katz & Yoon represented Cohen from June 2012 until January 2013, the firm’s lawsuit states. Attorney Brian Henri, who is defending Cohen, is a former member of the firm who along with lawyer Melissa Yoon represented the actress during the Sterling trial.

In yet another motion before Fruin on which he has not yet ruled, Katz & Yoon is asking that Henri be disqualified from representing Cohen. The firm’s lawyers argue in their court papers that Henri could use confidential firm information against his former employer to defend Cohen and that he could be an important witness in the lawsuit.

According to Katz & Yoon, Henri was obligated to obtain Cohen’s signature on a contingency fee agreement with the firm. However, Henri said
after the December 2012 verdict was reached against Sterling that Henri had not obtained Cohen’s signature on the agreement after all, the suit states.

A month later, Henri “disavowed any contingency fee arrangement with the firm and denied that Cohen had any obligation to pay a contingent or another fee to the firm,” the suit states.

“Cohen then went silent, refusing to reply to any inquiries from the firm’s other partners as to the status of her written fee agreement,” the suit states.

The firm’s lawyers spent more than 1,600 hours working on the actress’ case, the suit states.

Henri now has his own firm, Henri Law Group, located in Sunnyvale. He said Katz & Yoon is currently representing Sterling in an unrelated civil suit in federal court.

In Cohen’s case against Sterling, a jury found the billionaire real estate mogul liable to her for breach of contract, breach of the warranty of habitability and intentional infliction of emotional distress and awarded her $2.3 million in compensatory damages. The panel also found that Sterling and his employees at the West Hollywood property acted with malice toward Cohen, triggering a punitive damages phase of the trial in which she was awarded an additional $15 million.

Cohen said she lost most of her personal property in the Sept. 28, 2009, fire and maintained that the building had an inadequate fire detection system. She is appealing a February 2013 post-trial ruling by Judge William MacLaughlin. He ordered a retrial on all issues, stating in a 19-page decision that there was insufficient evidence to show that Sterling deliberately caused emotional distress to Cohen before or after the fire.

MacLaughlin also said there was no evidence that Sterling meant to cause Cohen or any other tenant emotional distress by failing to maintain the fire system before the blaze.

Cohen is perhaps best known for her topless role in Wes Anderson’s comedy-drama “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,” which starred Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Anjelica Huston.

She lived for 10 years in the 54-unit Sterling-owned building at 888 W. Knoll Drive and told jurors she stayed so long in part because it was under the city’s rent control ordinance.

Cohen maintained that her unit was among 52 units in which warning horns connected to the main alarm were not working the day of the fire. She also alleged that none of the dozen smoke detectors throughout the building were functioning.

Kim Webster, a former cast member on “The West Wing,” and several other tenants also sued Sterling in January 2010, but settled with him before trial.

in News
Related Posts

Marina del Rey Sportfishing: A Great Day on the Water

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Fishing is a pastime like no other. You can experience the nostalgia of that pastime in real time at Marina...

University of Miami President to Replace Gene Block Amid Controversy

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Julio Frenk Named New UCLA Chancellor at UC Regents Meeting The search for a new chancellor at UCLA is over....

Culver City Police Collaborate with VA and LASD to Aid Unhoused Veteran

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Joint Efforts Lead to Successful Assistance for a Veteran in Need The Culver City Police Mental Evaluation Team collaborated with...

West Hollywood Kicks Off WeHo Pride Arts Festival This Weekend

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Celebration Features Diverse LGBTQ+ Events From June 14-16 Each year, the City of West Hollywood celebrates the artistic contributions of...

30th Anniversary of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman Murders Commemorated with Virtual Vigil

June 13, 2024

June 13, 2024

Family Honors Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in Virtual Candlelight Vigil This week marks the 30th anniversary of the...

Culver City PRCS Hosts Summer Splash Kick-Off Event

June 13, 2024

June 13, 2024

Join PRCS for Fun-Filled Recreational Swim Activities The Parks, Recreation, and Community Services (PRCS) department of Culver City is gearing...

Students for Justice in Palestine Establish Third Encampment on the UCLA Campus on June 10

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

UCLA Administration Calls in Four Police Groups Within Two Hours, Arrests 27 Pro-Palestinian protesters briefly established a third encampment on...

Los Angeles City Council Postpones Vote on Marilyn Monroe’s Former Home

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

Decision on Historic Monument Status Rescheduled for June 26  After Judge James Chalfant issued a preliminary decision on the motion...

AMC Theatres Unveils Eight Money-Saving Deals for Summer Movie Season

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

Enjoy Discounted Tickets, Special Promotions, and Fan Favorites at AMC If you are a movie lover who has not been...

Hang-Ten Therapeutics-Surf Therapy for Kids: Catching Waves and Finding your Calm

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

A different type of therapy is making waves in Los Angeles. Hang-Ten Therapeutics, founded by Naomi Matanick, a licensed pediatric...

(Video) The Opening of Pico Roots Marketplace in Santa Monica

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

Lots of friendly vendors with wonderful gifts, cards, clothing, decor, and coffee beans available at 1819 Pico Boulevard. @culvercitywlanews The...

Tien Pham Connects Personal History with Role in Robert Downey Jr.’s “The Sympathizer”

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

Family’s Harrowing Escape From Vietnam Mirrors the Acclaimed HBO Max Series Vietnamese American actor-musician-producer Tien Pham finds a deep connection...

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Debuts Refreshing Summer Menu with New Boba and Matcha Drinks

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

Enjoy Four New Beverages and Exclusive Boba Happy Hours from June 10 to June 13 The Coffee Bean & Tea...

FDA Issues Warning on Potentially Contaminated Shellfish from Oregon and Washington

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

Shellfish From These Areas Carries Risk of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning The FDA has issued an alert advising consumers, restaurants, and...

(Video) Pro-Palestine Student Protesters at UCLA Set Up a Third Encampment on Monday Afternoon

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

UCPD and the UCLA Administration almost immediately called in UCPD, LAPD, Culver City Police Department and California Highway Patrol officers....