Raines Feldman LLP wins a jury verdict after four week trial in Los Angeles Superior Court

April, 2011
The National Law Journal Miles J. Feldman

Raines Feldman LLP wins a jury verdict after four week trial in Los Angeles Superior Court for celebrity auction house, Julien’s Auctions. Auction house prevails in dispute over Jackson artifacts

The National Law Journal
April 06, 2011

The auction house that had planned to sell more than 2,000 personal items from Neverland Ranch--until Michael Jackson abruptly sued to cancel the event--has won a jury verdict in a breach-of-contract case brought by a man who made online bids on 170 items.

The verdict ended one of several lawsuits filed following Jackson's death on June 25, 2009. Another case brought by Jackson's estate, alleging trademark violations against the Heal the World Foundation, is scheduled to go to trial on April 19 in Los Angeles.

In March 2009, Jackson sued Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, Calif., to block the auction. Julien's settled that case and agreed to cancel the event, which originally had been planned to take place in April 2009, two months before Jackson died. On April 4, a jury in Los Angeles found for Julien's on claims brought by Richard LaPointe, a Canadian collector of music memorabilia.

"The theme of my closing was that this was a terrible waste of the court's resources and the jurors' time because nobody got hurt and he didn't lose any money," said Miles Feldman, a partner at Raines Feldman in Beverly Hills, who represents Julien's. "It's not like he paid for goods and didn't get them."

LaPointe filed the suit on Oct. 6, 2009, against Julien's; its founder, Darren Julien; Michael Jackson's company, MJJ Productions LLC; Jackson's manager, Tohme Tohme; and the managers of Jackson's estate, John Branca and John McClain.

LaPointe claimed he was owed more than $120 million in lost profits as a result of the canceled auction, having placed absentee bids online on 170 items. In court documents, LaPointe said he had been the only bidder on 82 items, including a doll of Jackson wearing his outfit from the Bad music video; a mannequin of Jackson wearing "a black jacket, boots and black and red pants adorned with silver buckles and straps;" and several bronze statues of children.

"He was going after these items that may not be too popular now but will be in the future," said Nicholas Hornberger, managing partner of Hornberger & Brewer in Los Angeles, who represents LaPointe.

In the midst of trial, the Jackson defendants agreed to settle LaPointe's claims. Their attorney, Vincent Chieffo, a shareholder in the Los Angeles office of Greenberg Traurig, confirmed the settlement but declined to comment.

Hornberger said the settlement with the Jackson defendants provided his client a "large majority of the items" he sought.

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