Johnny Depp has settled a lawsuit with his former longtime lawyer Jake Bloom of Bloom Hergott.
Depp accused Bloom of illegally collecting more than US$30 million in contingent fees without a written contract. A trial was scheduled to begin on Dec. 2.
Bloom paid the Pirates of the Caribbean actor a “massive 8-figure settlement to avoid the shame of evidence in their looming public trial,” according to Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman.
Bryan Freedman, a lawyer for Bloom’s firm, said the firm was “pleased” with the resolution of the suit.
“The former law firm of Bloom Hergott, with the help of its insurance carrier, has favorably settled the litigation with Johnny Depp for a fraction of his original demand,” Freedman said in a statement. “While the firm was confident it would prevail at trial, we are nonetheless pleased with this resolution as it expedites the firm’s winding down process and allows it to get off the endless Johnny Depp litigation train.”
Waldman responded with a statement of his own.
“The law firm formerly known as Bloom Hergott, sued out of existence by Johnny Depp for a multi-decade fraud and malfeasance spree, and after losing a landmark ‘6147’ ruling, avoided the shame of evidence in a public trial by paying Mr. Depp an 8 figure settlement,” he said. “They are correct that 8 figures is a fraction of 9 figures.”
In October 2017, Depp alleged Bloom and his firm committed “professional malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment,” and as a result cost him millions of dollars.
“Johnny Depp’s lawsuit filed today reflects his continued stand against systemic, self-serving Hollywood practices that he hopes this lawsuit will expose and end,” Waldman said at the time.
In the lawsuit, the Blow actor said the firm “engaged in misconduct for their own financial benefit” and “violated basic tenets” of a typical lawyer-client relationship. Bloom and his firm allegedly “improperly and negligently collected over $30,000,000 in voidable contingent fees” from Depp’s income over the years without a legally binding contract.
In addition, Depp also accused Bloom and his firm of taking out a “hard money loan” with a high interest rate from a lender. He alleges that they then adjusted the terms of the loan for their own benefit.
“This loan cost Mr. Depp millions of dollars in unreasonable interest, fees, and voidable contingent fees, and was imposed on Mr. Depp without any of the protections that should have been afforded to a client when dealing with his attorney,” his complaint read.
Bloom countersued Depp, claiming that the actor had failed to fully pay his bills and attempted to have Depp’s case thrown out.
A judge ruled in Depp’s favour in August 2018 after stating that Bloom and Depp had a contingency agreement, which under state law must be in writing.
Bloom and his partner Alan Hergott retired in May and turned the firm over to the remaining partners. The new firm is now called Goodman Schenkman & Brecheen, according to Variety.
—With files from Chris Jancelewicz