No Sealing in Ex-Record Exec Charlie Walk’s Malpractice Lawsuit vs. Trump Lawyer Marc Kasowitz
Kasowitz had negotiated a confidential settlement agreement for Walk with UMG Recordings; but the agreement has now been made public, because the judge order it had to be unsealed for the malpractice lawsuit.
MAY 31, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: JUN 1, 2021
Walk had been fired by UMG Recordings for alleged sexual harassment, and settled any possible claims against UMG with Kasowitz’s help. Walk later sued Kasowitz and his firm, claiming they advised him badly; he sought to keep the confidential settlement agreement sealed.
No dice, said New York trial judge Andrew Borrok, in Walk v. Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, handed down on May 7 but just posted on Westlaw:
[T]he plaintiff’s motion to seal must be denied. Charlie Walk has placed directly at issue the Settlement Agreement … dated March 27, 2018, between UMG Recordings, Inc. … and Mr. Walk pursuant to which he was paid approximately $1.7 million in connection with the termination of his employment from UMG. To wit, Mr. Walk alleges that the defendants committed malpractice in advising him and negotiating the Settlement Agreement with UMG when he was accused by a number of women of sexual harassment.
Neither UMG nor Mr. Walk has a compelling interest in keeping the Settlement Agreement confidential. The interest of the victims of Mr. Walk’s alleged conduct and the public interest in how UMG addresses these types of allegations substantially outweighs any private agreement to the contrary.
CHARLIE WALK CAN’T KEEP $1.7M UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP SETTLEMENT SECRET, RULES JUDGE
MAY 11, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: JUN 1, 2021
Walk exited his role at UMG in 2018 amidst sexual misconduct allegations levelled at him by a former colleague who worked with Walk prior to his UMG tenure.
Walk and Universal agreed to the exec’s departure following an internal investigation by UMG into Walk’s conduct during his tenure at the Vivendi-owned company.
A Rolling Stone report published in February 2018 detailing other women’s allegations of sexual misconduct against Walk coincided with that investigation.
In March this year, Walk sued his ex-lawyer Marc Kasowitz alleging “legal malpractice” over the handling of the negotiations that resulted in his departure.
Walk is seeking $60 million in damages from Kasowitz for the firm allegedly having “botched” his representation during his exit from UMG.
Kasowitz’s firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, has denied Walk’s allegations.
It sent a letter, dated April 26, to Walk’s lawyers, Freedman & Taitelman LLP last month calling Walk’s filing “frivolous” while claiming that his case “is completely without merit in law, undertaken primarily to harass or maliciously injure Kasowitz”.
The letter alleged that there are “numerous egregious falsehoods” in Walk’s suit against Kasowitz.
In the letter, which you can read in full here, Kasowitz claims:
“[Walk] was fully informed…of his options to settle or to litigate at all times during the representation. Walk knows this full well – as do the three independent outside attorneys whom Walk consulted and who advised Walk during the entire period Kasowitz represented him.”
UMG and and Walk requested for the $1.7 million settlement to be kept confidential.
Speaking last week, the Judge, Justice Andrew Borrok, stated that neither UMG nor Walk had “a compelling interest” in keeping the settlement deal under wraps and that “the interest of the victims of Mr Walk’s alleged conduct and the public interest in how UMG addresses these types of allegations substantially outweighs any private agreement to the contrary”.
Added the Judge: “Charlie Walk has placed directly at issue the settlement agreement dated 27 Mar 2018, between UMG Recordings Inc and Mr Walk pursuant to which he was paid approximately $1.7 million in connection with the termination of his employment from UMG.
“To wit, Mr Walk alleges that the defendants committed malpractice in advising him and negotiating the settlement agreement with UMG when he was accused by a number of women of sexual harassment.”
Speaking to Law360 yesterday a representative for Kasowitz said: “We are pleased that the court denied Charlie Walk’s motion to keep evidence hidden from the public in his lawsuit against us.
“Today we are filing a motion to dismiss that frivolous lawsuit, and we intend to seek sanctions against him and his lawyers for bringing it”.
In Walk’s claim filed in New York in March, Walk argued that “instead of a fighter for his client, Kasowitz turned out to be passive and uninformed about the true facts of Mr. Walk’s case, and quickly pressured him to enter into settlement agreement that was not in Mr. Walk’s best interest”.
While not actually naming UMG as a defendant in the filing, Walk also alleged that the company “willfully engaged in his public character assassination, first informing all UMG employees that Mr. Walk was essentially guilty until proven innocent and encouraging them to come forward if they had similar claims to level against Mr. Walk and then making pronouncements to the media”.