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September 8, 2009 6:25 PM

Chadbourne, Giuliani Lawyer Join Marvel Litigation

Posted by Brian Baxter

New lawyers have filed notices of appearance in the tortured legal dispute between shareholders of Stan Lee Media, Inc., and Marvel Entertainment. The litigation continues in the shadow of Disney's $4 billion acquisition of Marvel last week.

The Am Law Daily covered the history of the decade-long dispute in January, when famed trial lawyer Martin Garbus filed a derivative suit on behalf of four SLMI shareholders against legendary comic book creator Stan Lee, Marvel, and several other individuals.

The case--and other related cases--relate to who owns the highly profitable IP from characters created by Lee, the Marvel collaborator behind the lucrative Spider-Man, Iron Man, and X-Men franchises.

Now, like King & Spalding before him, Garbus appears to be the latest lawyer on the outs for the plaintiffs' side.

Sources tell The Am Law Daily that Garbus recently sought to withdraw from the case on the grounds of irreconcilable differences with his clients, but a federal district court judge in Manhattan determined that Garbus needed to comply with local rules before he could be relieved. (Garbus, now of New York's Eaton & Van Winkle, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Joining the case as proposed cocounsel to SLMI are Chadbourne & Parke dispute resolution partner Oliver Armas and Michael Hess, a founding partner and vice chairman of New York-based management and consulting firm Giuliani Partners.

Hess, a former corporation counsel of the city of New York under former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, is appearing in his individual capacity as counsel to SLMI and not as a member of Giuliani Partners. (Hess lists his personal hotmail e-mail address as his contact.)

Neither Armas nor Hess responded to calls requesting comment.

The lawyers faced a Tuesday deadline to file opposition papers to the defendant's motion to dismiss. An amended complaint was filed in the case in April and plaintiffs' lawyers are said to be working on another one.

Representing Marvel in the litigation is David Fleischer and Jodi Kleinick from Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. The firm also advised Marvel on its acquisition by Disney. The company's general counsel, John Turitzin, is a former Paul Hastings partner.

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