Stan Lee is 95, but a little thing like that doesn’t stop him from aggressively protecting his name and likeness. The legendary superhero comics creator has filed a $1 billion — with a B — lawsuit against Pow! Entertainment, claiming that the media and entertainment company he co-founded conspired with a pair of its employees to steal his identity.
In the suit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), Lee says POW CEO Shane Duffy and co-founder Gill Champion did not clue him in on terms of the company’s sale to Hong Kong-based Camsing International a year ago.
“Defendants conspired and agreed to broker a sham deal to sell POW! to a company in China and fraudulently steal Stan Lee’s identity, name, image, and likeness as part of a nefarious scheme to benefit financially at Lee’s expense,” the suit alleges. “Pursuant to their conspiracy and agreement, Defendants … knowingly made material misrepresentations of fact, and forged or fraudulently obtained a signature from Lee to give POW! Inc. the exclusive use of Lee’s identity, name, image, and likeness … and each of them knew that their objective was unlawful and they intended to aid each other in achieving that unlawful objective.”
The suit notes the death last year of Joan B. Lee, the plaintiff’s wife of 70 years. “Upon her death,” it reads, “Lee at age 94 became the target of various unscrupulous businessmen, sycophant and opportunists who saw a chance to take advantage of Lee’s despondent state of mind, kind heart and devotion to his craft – a devotion that often allowed him to overlook the bad intentions of others when it came to his property.” He adds that Duffy and Champion “were two of the opportunists” and preyed “on his infirmities while he was in a state of despair.”
Lee’s suit adds that they and another man — Jerardo Olivarez, who isn’t named as a defendant — managed to convince Lee to sign a power of attorney to gain further and more precise control over Lee’s assets.” The suit notes that Olivarez is “a person Lee once trusted but who is being sued by Lee now for fraud.”
Adam D.H. Grant and Jennifer Levin Stearns of Alpert, Barr & Grant are representing Lee in the suit, which punitive and compensatory damages in excess of $1 billion.