EXCLUSIVE: Having reached a deal last month in his $25 million legal sword fight with his former business managers, Johnny Depp is also looking to bring a related $30 million ruckus with his ex-lawyers to an end.
With a jury trial penciled in to start May 6 next year, the seemingly near-cash-strapped The Pirates of the Caribbean star’s reps and attorneys for Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman LLP are now engaged in serious settlement talks, I’ve learned.
At this stage, nothing is signed or sealed, and it is not even certain whether the battle-scarred parties will have an agreement before their scheduled August 28 motion hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court. However, with the timeline still somewhat fluid, the looming presence of insurance companies, and that downtown L.A. gathering looming, I hear that there is an impetus among the principals to bring to a halt the big-bucks malpractice complaint. The case was filed initially by Depp in October 2017 and resulted in a December 2017 countersuit from Martin Scorsese attorney Jacob Bloom and his partners.
Similar to the recent end of Depp’s January 2017-commencing showdown with The Management Group, the actor settling things with his formerly trusted lawyer of two decades immediately eases worries that the Burbank-based studio may have of bitter litigation distracting from Grindelwald. Having rolled out a focused Depp as the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald at Comic-Con last month, Warners haas made no secret of how high its expectations and P&A are for the pic.
Witnessing the ultimately contained backlash to Depp’s casting in tje Fantastic Beasts franchise to begin with as claims of domestic abuse in his now-ended marriage to Amber Heard splayed across the trades and tabloids, Warner Bros had to recognize it might have a problem on its hands with future lawsuits the actor might become involved in. Even a slither of the revelations of Depp’s financial excess and other dirty laundry that the bust-up with TMG put in the public docket, not to mention that June Rolling Stone profile the actor disastrously agreed to, would certainly overshadow the Eddie Redmayne-led follow-up to 2016’s successful Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Neither Bloom’s Reed Smith lawyers nor Depp’s team led by The Endeavor Law Firm’s Adam Waldman responded to request for comment on the case or the status of settlement talks.
Publicly, the parties are in the weeds fighting over whether Bloom’s firm was entitled to the lucrative slice of Depp’s fees for films and more that they have been collecting under a contingency agreement. The Oscar-nominated actor says no because all they’ve had since 1999 is a handshake deal. The lawyers for the lawyers say yes because, among other objections, Depp never suggested he felt otherwise over the years, even from January 2017 to October 2017 when he had sued TMG but before he went after Bloom.
First filed last fall, Depp’s $30 million malpractice barrage against his longtime lawyers said that there had never been a “statutorily prescribed written contract” between the parties. Spreading his tangled net wide, the actor also claimed the venerated law firm had been working with The Management Group against his best interests and expressed economic desires.
“Cross-Defendants completely fail to discuss ratification in their motion. Indeed, the word ‘ratification’ is nowhere to be found in their memorandum,” said Reed Smith for the Bloom participants in an August 2 opposition response to Depp’s efforts to crash their breach of contract countersuit. “Cross-Defendants have therefore waived this issue and Bloom Hergott’s pleading should be accepted as true and the contract claim allowed to proceed,” the filing added. “Furthermore, if an amended pleading is required, Bloom Hergott can provide additional allegations about Cross-Defendants’ ratification of the agreement.”
At this point, even as this case looks to be heading towards a settlement, Depp isn’t out of the legal woods at all. Battered with a lawsuit from former bodyguards over owed pay, Depp is also looking at assault allegations by the location manager of the now stymied City of Lies. In the latter case, Depp said in an August 15 filing that plaintiff Gregg “Rocky” Brooks “provoked” the situation, and the actor responded in “self-defense/defense of others.”
“The acts complained of by Plaintiff were provoked by Plaintiff’s unlawful and wrongful conduct in that Plaintiff willfully and maliciously acted out and conducted his activities in such a manner as to cause, Defendant Depp to fear for his safety, and according to Defendant Depp’s observations, Defendant Brad Furman for his safety,” the filing in Los Angeles Superior court said of the film;s star and director.
So, even if one more is down, there are more lawsuits to go for Depp – for now.