The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its former publicist Michael Russell have ended at least one portion of their on-going legal wars. The parties came to a settlement last week in Russell’s $2 million breach of contract and fraud suit against the HFPA. The agreement was reached in a conference in LA Superior Court on February 11. No details of the deal were disclosed nor whether it also ended the HFPA’s own suit against Russell and his partner Stephen Locascio for violating a confidentiality agreement with the Golden Globes presenting organization. Russell sued the HFPA in January 2011 just days before that year’s Globes after the group did not renew his contract. Russell alleged in his suit that the HFPA “abuse their positions and engage in unethical and potentially unlawful deals and arrangements which amount to a payola scheme.” Russell says he was fired in March 2010 after bringing up the issue to then HFPA President Phil Berk. The charges from Russell, who had been the group’s PR guy for 17 years, could have had serious implications for the credibility challenged group’s tax-exempt status if proven, but that won’t be a problem now with this settlement. The HFPA is still engaged in a courtroom turf war with dick clark productions over who controls the TV rights to the Globes. A judge ruled in dcp’s favor last year but the HFPA launched an appeal last June. In this case, Michael Russell was represented by Tim McGonigle of the Santa Monica Law Offices of Timothy D. McGonigle. The HFPA was represented by Joe Campo of LA firm Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith
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