Lisa Bloom. Photo: Kathy Hutchins, Shutterstock.
Lawyers from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe on Wednesday succeeded in disqualifying celebrity lawyer Lisa Bloom in a wrongful termination case against Crown Media Holdings, Inc., parent of the Hallmark channel, brought by a former host.
Mark Steines, who previously co-hosted the show “Home and Family,” sued Crown Media in Los Angeles federal court, claiming that he was wrongly fired after he blew the whistle on harassment by an executive producer of the show.
“Despite the show’s squeaky-clean portrayal on television, it was apparently another case behind the scenes,” wrote U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney. “The show’s creator and longtime executive producer, Forrest ‘Woody’ Fraser, allegedly bullied, verbally abused, and harassed cast and crew members.”
Steines’ counsel? Lisa Bloom, who had previously represented two of the show’s female producers in a harassment suit.
But one problem. Before Steines’ suit was filed (but after the one by the two women), The Bloom Firm entered into a legal consulting agreement with an executive producer and production company associated with Home & Family.
It was a sweet deal for Bloom: $50,000 for no more than five hours of services a year for three years—or $3,333 an hour.
Shortly before Steines sent a demand letter to Crown Media, Bloom unilaterally terminated the consulting agreement and returned the first installment payment of $16,666.
The Orrick team—Timothy Long and Michael Wertheim—cried foul, arguing that she was conflicted out of taking the case.
The judge agreed.
“The Bloom Firm cannot now rewrite the terms of the legal consulting agreement. The LCA is not limited to reviewing scripts or advising on the accuracy of fictional courtroom scenes. It broadly states that The Bloom Firm will advise on ‘legal situations.’ This language—coupled with the fact that another paragraph in the LCA expressly creates an attorney-client relationship—indicates that the defendants hired The Bloom Firm to provide legal advice.”
Carney added, “A lawyer’s word is her bond and The Bloom Firm promised defendants it would represent them and not others adverse to their interests.”
Bloom declined to comment on the decision.
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