February 24, 2009 3:16 PM

Seyfarth May Not Have to Pay $30 Million to Billy Blanks After All

Posted by Zach Lowe

The Am Law Daily had forgotten about Billy Blanks, guru of the exercise fad Tae Bo, until we read a story on the National Law Journal's site today about a malpractice case Blanks had won against Seyfarth Shaw in 2005. 

In that case, a trial jury in California awarded Blanks $30 million--$15 million compensatory, $15 million punitive--after Blanks sued Seyfarth for missing a key filing deadline in a case against an accountant who scammed Blanks by acting as his agent without a license to do so. 

A court dismissed that case after finding that Blanks' team at Seyfarth missed the deadline to file an action with the state's Labor Commissioner, the NLJ says. 

Blanks sued the firm and Seyfarth attorney William Lancaster, and a jury slammed Seyfarth with that big verdict. 

Seyfarth and Lancaster (repped by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher) appealed, arguing that a trial court judge gave the jurors bad instructions on exactly how much in damages Blanks might have won from the bogus agent.

The state appeals court agreed and remanded back to the lower court, where Seyfarth expects to be "fully vindicated." 

Ah, not so fast. The appeals court warned Seyfarth that it might have a hard time convincing a trial jury why exactly Lancaster waited until August 2000 to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner even though a separate court had ruled in November 1999--nine months earlier--that the commissioner's office, not the court system, had sole jurisdiction over agent-related claims. 

Seyfarth will have the "burden to explain" why that delay was "based upon a rational, professional judgment," the appeals court judge said, according to the Legal Pad, a blog run by the Recorder, an Am Law Daily sibling publication. 

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I hope billy wins this one, he may have to find someone else to sue.


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