Another Day, Another Judge Is Wondering Whether Or Not A Richard Liebowitz Client Knows He's A Richard Liebowitz Client
from the this-can't-be-good-for-business dept
Richard Liebowitz appears to be in trouble with a judge yet again. Judge Lewis Kaplan has issued quite an order in one of Liebowitz’s thousands of cases — Chosen Figure LLC v. Smiley Miley — asking for proof that the plaintiff actually knows it’s a client of Richard Liebowitz. The judge seems quite aware of Liebowitz’s reputation:
Plaintiff’s attorney, Richard Liebowitz has become quite well known for his failures to comply with court rules and orders, for having been sanctioned, and in a couple of cases for having lied to judges.
When an order starts that way, you know that it’s not going to go well for Liebowitz.
Judge Kaplan notes that right as Liebowitz was required to send notices to every docket of the benchslap ruling he had received from Judge Jesse Furman, he dismissed this particular case (as he did with a bunch of others), claiming that a settlement had been reached. But, thanks to Liebowitz’s reputation, Judge Kaplan wanted more info. This is… not particularly common. If you tell a judge you have a settlement they usually don’t squint questionably at you. But here:
The Court, concerned in light of Mr. Liebowitz’s history as to whether he in fact had been retained by the plaintiff and authorized to sue and to settle, entered an order stating in relevant part, the following:
On or before August 6, 2020, Mr. Liebowitz shall file (1) a personal affidavit or declaration (a) stating whether and when the plaintiff in this case specifically authorized him to (i) file this action and (ii) settle it, and (b) attaching any retainer agreement or other documentary evidence as to the foregoing, as well as (2) a personal affidavit or declaration of the plaintiff (a) stating whether and when the plaintiff in this case specifically authorized Mr. Liebowitz to (i) file this action and (ii) settle it, and (b) attaching any documentary evidence as to the foregoing. Failure to comply in all respects may result in the imposition of sanctions.”
Judge Kaplan appears well aware of Liebowitz’s history of not actually following instructions and felt the need to spell things out rather specifically in the order, rather than leave any chance for vagueness or confusion. Did Richard Liebowitz comply with the order? I’ll give you one guess, and I know you’ll get it right… because, no, of course Richard Liebowitz did not actually comply with the order. He did submit two declarations — one from himself, and another from Josiah Kamau, who is a principal for Chosen Figure LLC — but neither fulfilled the requirements of the order. First, as to Liebowitz’s own declaration:
The Liebowitz declaration asserts that “[o]n February 28, 2019, Plaintiff, via its principal Josiah Kamau, signed a retainer agreement with Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC, (‘LLF’) in which Plaintiff authorized LLF to file copyright infringement lawsuits on his behalf.” It goes on to state that Mr. Liebowitz filed this action on June 23, 2020 (almost 16 months after the alleged date of the retainer agreement), that he notified plaintiff on June 23, 2020 that he had brought this action, and that Mr. Liebowitz had plaintiffs authority to settle the case. It attaches what Mr. Liebowitz claims are copies of the signature page of the retainer agreement and an email to Mr. Kamau notifying Kamau that he had brought this action in the name of an entity.
Several points are notable about this declaration. First, Mr. Liebowitz did not comply with the Court’s direction to submit the retainer agreement. The purported signature page reveals nothing whatsoever about the alleged retainer agreement, and Mr. Liebowitz did not submit any documentary evidence as to anything beyond this page and the notification email. Second, Mr. Liebowitz claims that plaintiff (Chosen Figure, LLC) authorized him to file this action, but the purported signature page of the retainer agreement that he submitted was executed on behalf of Mr. Kamau personally and not on behalf of any corporate or other entity. Third, the purported retainer agreement was signed on February 28, 2019. This is nearly a year before the alleged infringement in this case took place, which the complaint makes clear was February 12, 2020. Whatever the terms of the agreement may be – the Court does not know because Mr. Liebowitz failed to submit it, despite a clear order requiring him to do so under threat of sanctions – the agreement cannot possibly serve as evidence that “the plaintiff in this case specifically authorized him to (i) file this action and (ii) settle it.”
That’s not good, Richard. Not good at all. For what it’s worth, I’ll just note that since this is a case from this year, in other cases, Liebowitz has insisted that since having an epic benchslap back in November of last year, he had put in place better case management tools. So, he has no excuse this time around.
As for the other declaration, well, that’s not going to cut it either:
The Kamau declaration avers that, “[o]n February 28, 2019, [Kamau] personally signed a retainer agreement with Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC (‘LLF’) in which [he] authorized LLF to file copyright infringement lawsuits on [his] behalf”; that Mr. Liebowitz “had [his] authority to file the present copyright infringement lawsuit as of March 17, 2020”; that Mr. Liebowitz notified him of the filing of this action on June 23, 2020 by email; and that Mr. Liebowitz had authority to settle the case. The declaration contains two exhibits, which are the same signature page and notification email attached to Mr. Liebowitz’s declaration. It does not include any evidence supporting Kamau’ s claim that he gave Mr. Liebowitz permission to file this lawsuit on March 17, 2020 or to settle it at a later time.
This declaration raises additional questions. Mr. Liebowitz claims that he had authority to bring this action by virtue of the purported February 28, 2019 retainer agreement. Mr. Kamau, however, declares that Mr. Liebowitz “had authority to file the present … lawsuit as of March 17, 2020,” thus implying that the retainer agreement of February 28, 2019 did not authorize the filing of this action. And Mr. Kamau, like Mr. Liebowitz, has submitted no documentation apart from the purported signature page and the June 23, 2020 email.
Given Liebowitz’s history, which this judge is well acquainted with, let’s just say Judge Kaplan is not happy:
This Court’s order of July 30 required – and still requires – production of the full retainer agreement or agreements and all documentary evidence with respect to Mr. Liebowitz’s authority to bring and settle this case. That includes all emails, letters, notes and other writings or electronically stored information bearing on the retention, the scope of the engagement (including as it may have changed from time to time), and the settlement.
All of this material shall be filed by Messrs. Liebowitz and Kamau no later than August 18, 2020.
Get your popcorn ready…