After failing to get Mark Steines’ retaliation and wrongful-termination lawsuit tossed, Hallmark Channel’s owner is now aiming to have the former Home & Family co-host’s high-profile attorney Lisa Bloom pushed out of the case.
“This motion arises because Defendants retained The Bloom Firm, and that representation prevents The Bloom Firm from pursuing this adverse representation against Defendants,” Crown Media declared earlier this week in a lengthy federal court filing (read it here) seeking to have the Bloom Firm and its practicing namesake disqualified from the more than 2-month-old legal matter. “Defendants have not waived the conflict of interest and despite Defendants’ request for The Bloom Firm to withdraw as counsel, The Bloom Firm has refused,” the William Abbott-run company added, with a request for a hearing in downtown Los Angeles on January 7.
“Because of The Bloom Firm’s intimate knowledge of Defendants’ confidential facts that are directly related to Plaintiffs’ current lawsuit, The Bloom Firm must be disqualified,” Crown’s attorneys at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP demand of the suit Steines initially filed in late September. A case that Crown at the time said had “no merit” as they noted Bloom “has a consulting agreement” with them.
“I’m flattered that they are so intimidated by me that they would try to silence me and ask the judge to remove me,” Bloom told Deadline today in response to this incremental move by Crown. “They will lose, just as they lost the last round of motions. I stand by Mark Steines, who bravely stood up for sexual harassment victims.”
While Bloom herself is far from a stranger to controversy and the court might truly want to examine the matter as a genuine conflict, this activity by Crown is clearly a Plan B after being shut down by District Court Judge Cormac Carney earlier this week in their dismissal desires.
For one thing, after fighting Steines’ suit in both state and federal court for months and bringing up Bloom’s agreement early on, it is a bit hard to believe that Crown Media have apparently just realized that they might have a wedge in the fact that the firm were brought on-board “to provide legal services for a specified period, in exchange for a substantial Consulting Fee” back in the summer of 2017. Yesterday’s filing asserts that “on October 1, 2018, when Plaintiffs served the lawsuit, Defendants immediately requested that The Bloom Firm withdraw.” Seems like when the Bloom team didn’t exit repping Steines, Crown bet the house on getting the case dumped not the lawyers. When that strategy went south on December 4, they went full circle, so to speak.
As point of fact, that legal consulting agreement with Bloom was with Home & Family creator Woody Fraser and his production company as well as Crown, the Hallmark Channel owner says. It was drafted up and signed after Bloom was in discussions with at least two women who had complaints of sexual harassment and more by the now exited EP. Former ex-Entertainment Tonight co-host Steines says after six years on Home & Family that he was sidelined, had his salary slashed and was eventually pink slipped in May for sticking up for women on Home & Family who had allegedly been harassed by Fraser.
On June 13th of this year, soon after Steines was dropped from his gig on the channel’s flagship lifestyle show and about two months before the Bloom Firm filed a suit for the co-host in Los Angeles Superior Court, the lawyer and her team told Crown that they were going to “unilaterally withdraw from the LCA.” A request Crown says the could not do and one they would have never granted, having already paid Bloom the first of three scheduled payments for services.
“On June 29, 2018, Defendants’ counsel communicated to The Bloom Firm that Defendants continued to view the LCA as legitimate, binding and enforceable, and requested that The Bloom Firm not take any actions adverse to Defendants,” the December 5 filing notes and then points out a correspondence about Steines started.
A correspondence that led to a lawsuit and now has brought the parties to this stage.
BTW – Crown insist that this isn’t to hurt Steines’ case and actually won’t hurt his pursuit at all. “Because this case is still in its infancy, Plaintiffs will not suffer any prejudice, let alone extreme prejudice, if they are required to find new counsel,” the Hallmark Cards controlled production company says.
Not sure if Steines or Bloom will see it that optimistically.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.