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August 3, 2010 5:17 PM

Don't Mess with Patty Glaser

Posted by Drew Combs

A top video game industry executive is learning the hard way that a fee dispute with a leading Hollywood litigator is much more rough and tumble than anything he might create for the console.

The executive in question is Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick. The litigator he's up against is Patricia Glaser, a name partner at Los Angeles litigation boutique Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard & Shapiro.

The dispute between the two centers on a lawsuit that Glaser filed against Kotick over what she claimed were unpaid legal fees connected to her firm's work defending Kotick and several associates against a sexual harrassment suit.

On July 6, a three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal ruled in Glaser's favor, and awarded her $1.42 million, including the legal fees she sought, according to a Los Angeles Times story published Monday. The appellate court decision upholds a lower court ruling from April 2009 that affirmed an arbitrator's decision in favor of Glaser, who declined to comment to the newspaper.

The events that ultimately led to the legal standoff began in 2007. That's when Kotick retained Glaser to defend him against a sexual harassment suit filed by Cynthia Madvig, a former flight attendant on the private jet that Kotick owned with Andrew Gordon, the head of Goldman Sachs & Co.'s investment banking division in Los Angeles, according to the LA Times. (Kotick was not Glaser's first high-profile client in a sexual harrassment suit; she previously represented game show host Bob Barker against similar allegations.)

Madvig alleged that the jet's pilot created a miserable work environment after she refused his dinner invitations, according to the LA Times. And two months after she complained about the situation to Gordon, the Times reports, Kotick fired her. In her suit, Madvig named the pilot, Kotick, Gordon, and the plane's holding company as defendants.

Glaser wasn't the first lawyer to represent Kotick in connection with Madvig's lawsuit--nor was she the last. Other firms involved in the case at some point included Sullivan & Cromwell, Bingham McCutchen, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

It remains unclear what caused the falling out between Kotick and Glaser. Soon after she took the case, the Times reports, she advised Kotick that it could be settled for $200,000 to $400,000. (The Times reports that the parties eventually settled in April 2008, with Madvig receiving $675,000.)

Glaser was unavailable for comment at the time of this posting.

Anthony Glassman, an attorney for the holding company Gordon and Kotick created to manage the jet, told the Times his clients believe the billings from Glaser's firm were excessive and inappropriate given the nature of the case. Glassman told the Times that Gordon and Kotick are reviewing their options with regards to additional appeals.

Glassman did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

 

Drew Combs can be contacted at dcombs@alm.com.

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