LOS ANGELES – Porn actress Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti must pay $4.85 million to an attorney who worked at his former law firm, a California judge ruled Monday in an order that holds the potential presidential candidate personally liable in a lawsuit over back pay.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dennis Landin ruled that Avenatti personally guaranteed a settlement with attorney Jason Frank, who said Eagan Avenatti misstated its profits and that he was owed millions of dollars.
Avenatti, who is best known for representing Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump following an alleged 2006 affair, did not appear at Monday’s hearing and never filed arguments in the case.
He told The Associated Press that Frank owes him and the firm $12 million “for his fraud.” He did not provide details and declined to comment further. It’s unclear whether Avenatti has filed any litigation in the matter against Frank, whose attorney said Frank doesn’t owe Avenatti a dime and that saying so is defamatory.
Avenatti, who is toying with a possible 2020 presidential run, can appeal the ruling but since he never filed arguments about why he shouldn’t have to pay the $4.85 million, any such effort would be “dead in the water,” said Frank’s attorney, Eric George.
“He’s managed to delay this for ages,” George said. “At the end of the day, this is money that’s owed. No matter how you try to spin it, it comes back to the fact that he took money, it wasn’t his and now there’s a judgment saying it’s owed to my client.”
Frank had worked at Avenatti’s former firm under an independent contractor agreement and was supposed to collect 25 percent of its annual profits, along with 20 percent of fees his clients paid, court documents say.
“It’ll be important to keep an eye on him and sources of money that are coming in, see what his assets are, and take it from there,” George said.
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