The statute of limitations sank David Bergstein’s latest lawsuit against one of his former lawyers says a judge. Citing that the film financier’s claims against Teri Zimon for legal malpractice are subjected to a one-year statute of limitations under California law, Judge Alan Rosenfield granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment (read it here) on August 30. While this effectively throws the case against Zimon out and the $50M in damages that the film financier was seeking, Bergstein can still appeal the ruling. The financier, who first filed his action against the lawyer on August 26, 2011, has argued that the statute of limitations on the case should be three years because it is a case of fraud. Unfortunately for him, Rosenfield didn’t agree. “There is ample evidence that plaintiffs knew the basis for the breach of fiduciary duty claims before April 2010 and well before one year before Plaintiffs filed suit,” added the Judge in his 10-page ruling. Rosenfield’s ruing also agreed with Zimon that Bergstein’s Graybox LLC lacked standing to sue her. The Judge accepted that because while Zimon was working for Bergstein as a lawyer she had no knowledge of that particular company of his and certainly had no attorney-client privilege with Greybox.
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This latest legal twist came just a week after Bergstein won $50 million in damages against another former lawyer of his. On August 21, the film financier was awarded $49.5 million against his former in-house counsel of a decade Susan Tregub in his case for breach of fiduciary duty and legal malpractice. The next day, the jury added another $500,000 to his award in punitive damages. That two-year case came from Tregub going to work for Aramid Entertainment Fund in 2009 after leaving The Whole Ten Yards producer’s Capitol Films. Tregub’s move to Aramid is what Bergstein claimed lead to the Fund and its principal David Molner pushing five of his companies including Capitol and Thinkfilm into bankruptcy and causing him $269 million in damages. Zimon first started working for Bergstein in 2008. According to the 2011 suit, Zimon, a friend of Tregub’s, started passing a list of Bergstein’s creditors and other information along to the former lawyer and Aramid in 2009. Bergstein contends this information was used to force his companies into bankruptcy. Bergstein still has another case on the go in the matter of Tregub. He filed a $100 million in damages lawsuit in April against LA law firms Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and Levene Neale Bender Yoo & Brill for their part in Tregub switching sides and turning against him. No trial date has been set for the case against the firms. Alex Weingarten, Eric Bakewell and Leslie Eggers of LA’s Weingarten Brown LLP represent Bergstein. Zimon is represented by Winget Spadafora & Schwartzberg’s Brandon Reif and Marc S. Ehrlich.