Celebrity victims’ rights lawyer and avowed feminist Lisa Bloom, whose reputation as a champion of women was ravaged by reports of her secret 2016 memo to Harvey Weinstein hyping her ability to trash actress Rose McGowan and other accusers of the disgraced movie mogul and convicted rapist, is once again in hot water.
In her attempts to seize a sizable portion of millions of dollars in settlement money awarded to two severely disabled autistic children by two different California school districts, Bloom is facing allegations of fraud and forgery, among other complaints by the children’s Oakland-based attorney, Micha Star Liberty.
Liberty argues that Bloom violated financial and other terms of a joint venture agreement with Liberty’s law firm and abandoned the agreement in late March, after seven months, without seeking court permission, notifying the clients, or obtaining their explicit written agreement for fee-sharing as required by law—while allegedly fabricating a fake letter with invalid signatures—and thus is not entitled to any money.
The families of Liberty’s clients, meanwhile, have filed formal ethics complaints against Bloom and three Bloom Firm colleagues with the State Bar of California.
Rose McGowan, who is suing Bloom, Weinstein, and Weinstein attorney David Boies for alleged racketeering and illegal wiretapping, among other complaints, told The Daily Beast in a text message: “Lisa Bloom needs to be disbarred and fall off the planet…It’s hard to comprehend that level of evil.”
“I feel equipped to help you with the Roses of the world, because I have represented so many of them,” Bloom wrote in her notorious memo to Weinstein that proposed, among other measures, launching a “counterops online campaign to push back and call her out as a pathological liar.” The memo continued: “They start out as impressive, bold women, but the more one presses for evidence, the weaknesses and lies are revealed.”
Through her law firm’s managing attorney, Arick Fudali, Bloom—who was said to be on vacation this week—argues that she lived up to her joint agreement with Liberty and placed liens on the settlements, blocking multimillion-dollar payments to the victims, “because The Bloom Firm is only seeking its fair share of the attorneys’ fees and does not seek any of the client’s portion.”
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In a lengthy statement (published in full at the bottom of this story), Fudali added: “The Bloom Firm dissolved the joint venture with Liberty Law due to multiple complaints by Bloom Firm staff concerning the way they were treated by Micha Liberty. Bloom Firm employees described Ms. Liberty’s treatment as abusive and bullying. This was in direct contrast to the collaborative and empowering environment fostered by The Bloom Firm. As such, after multiple complaints about Ms. Liberty’s treatment of staff, The Bloom Firm dissolved the Joint Venture.”
Liberty fired back: “Here we have abuse survivors claiming that Lisa Bloom has acted unprofessionally and unethically, and her only response is essentially ‘Micha’s a bitch’? That misogynistic response sounds like a page taken straight from Harvey Weinstein’s playbook—and has nothing to do with the issues. The time for such attacks on women is over. Frankly, coming from her, I take that as a huge compliment.”
Liberty added: “Lisa Bloom also claims that she is not delaying any disbursement of funds. Yet here we are, literally months after the settlement was reached—and the clients have no money because of her ungrounded claims for attorneys’ fees. She can try to paint this with any brush that she wants—but the actual picture will never, ever change.”
A Zoom hearing on the dispute between Bloom and Liberty is scheduled for Thursday, with San Francisco-based U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler presiding.
“Oh my God, what a nightmare,” longtime California malpractice lawyer Karen Goodman told The Daily Beast, noting that she has been retained by the parents and guardians of Liberty’s autistic clients “Brennon B” and “I.V”—victims of sexual assault and physical and emotional abuse, respectively—to compel Bloom to remove the liens.
“She has her hand out based on forged documents, that’s the most amazing part about it,” Goodman added (although Bloom contends that the documents and signatures are authentic and legally valid). “They purported to have had the minor children sign via DocuSign. They didn’t even pretend it was the guardians who had signed it. I had to do a double-take. When Micha called me on it, I didn’t believe it. I thought there must be some grayer area—you get cynical in your years. But man, this is not only a forgery, it’s a bad forgery.”
The main alleged forgery—a typo-dotted letter complete with Micha Liberty’s printed signature in italic script and the Liberty Law Office letterhead, dated Sept. 20, 2019—begins “Dear Brennon.”
“Brennon B” is a severely autistic young man who had “extremely low verbal skills and difficulty with social engagement, including but not limited to, the ability to (a) understand social cues, (b) understand right from wrong, and (c) to communicate internal emotions and conflict,” along with “the mental and emotional capacity of a six to seven-year-old child,” according to his lawsuit against the West Contra Costa Unified School District alleging years of repeated instances of sexual assault on school property by fellow special-needs students and a member of the teaching staff.
“I write to follow up on my email two weeks ago when I shared the exciting news that Liberty Law is now formally collaborated with The Bloom Firm,” the letter continues. “Lisa Bloom and I have each established successful law firms premised on the same founding principle: To tend to and cherish the legal rights of those who need advocacy and protection.”
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The letter goes on: “I want to make clear that regardless of the addition of Bloom Firm lawyers to your team, you will never be charged any additional attorney fees higher than those specified in our agreement dated June 16, 2016. The attorney fee percentage you will pay remains identical and I always [sic] be the lead lawyer representing you. I have agreed to split my share of any attorney fees collected equally with The Bloom Firm”; the letter then requests a signature consenting to a fee arrangement in which Liberty Law and “The Boom [sic] Firm” would equally share the proceeds of 33⅓ percent, 40 percent, or 45 percent of the proceeds, depending on the legal work required should a trial occur.
At the bottom of the page, there is a handwritten scrawl below the statement: “I have read this letter and agree that the above information is correct”—apparently a signature purported to be that of Brennon’s legal guardian and mother, “Bellinda B.”
In a declaration to the court, however, Bellinda B. states: “I have never, nor would I ever, sign any document hiring or agreeing to pay the Bloom Firm or any of its attorneys any money on BB’s behalf. This lien is a lie.”
Brennon’s mother added that when Micha Liberty emailed her last year that she was considering bringing Bloom into the case, “I called her to discuss the email with her. During our call, I expressed that I was concerned that Ms. Bloom appeared to me to be an ineffective advocate for sexual assault survivors and seemed to me to be merely concerned with her media image and own financial gain… Because of my trust in Ms. Liberty’s [judgment] and her trust in the word of Ms. Bloom, I reluctantly agreed to allow some of the Bloom Firm staff to work on BB’s case under Ms. Liberty’s direct supervision and direction.”
The Bloom Firm, meanwhile, claimed in a court filing that Brennon’s mother is a liar, calling her declaration “blatantly and demonstrably false… Not only is the declaration false, but [Liberty] knew the Signed Fee Sharing Agreement existed, knew the sworn declaration was false, and nevertheless, filed it with this Court. Even worse, [Liberty] had Bellinda B. file frivolous ethics complaints against [The Bloom Firm] based upon this lie, and then, upon information and belief, leaked the false story to a reporter in an attempt to gain a tactical advantage and keep attorneys’ fees to which it was not entitled.” (California-based NBC reporter Tyler Kingkade filed a story on the dispute in late June.)
In her own court declaration, Liberty stated: “Unbeknownst to me, the Bloom Firm sent a letter to Bellinda B. via email. The letter was directly addressed to the disabled Plaintiff. Tellingly, I was not copied on this email and was never sent any communication by the Bloom Firm informing me that such an email was sent. The letter was drafted on my office’s letterhead and purportedly had my signature on it.
“I did not authorize the sending of the September 20, 2019 letter. I did not draft the September 20, 2019 letter. I did not sign the September 20, 2019 letter. I did not send the September 20, 2019 letter. I did not, and would not have, submitted the September 20, 2019 letter to Plaintiff’s guardian ad litem as drafted given that it was directed towards the Plaintiff rather than his guardian ad litem, Bellinda B.”
In a third court declaration, Liberty’s associate Ian Hansen attached an email he sent to The Bloom Firm’s Arick Fudali stating that questionable letters were “created by your paralegal…on Liberty Law Office letterhead. They purport to have Micha’s signature on them, but they are not signed by her, and she states that she never saw them before they were sent…Micha certainly did not authorize [the Bloom Firm paralegal] to send these letters or sign them on her behalf. Unfortunately, [the Bloom Firm paralegal] has a history of creating and filing documents that he misrepresents are from Liberty Law Office when they are not.”
The second multimillion-dollar settlement on which Bloom has placed a lien involves “I.V.,” a 7-year-old autistic girl who sued the Vacaville Unified School District after her physical and emotional abuse by a school bus driver was caught on video and received intense media coverage.
In his own court declaration, I.V’s father and guardian “Ron V.” likewise denied ever signing a document in which he agreed to fee-sharing by Lisa Bloom.
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“In early September, the internet exploded with shocking and troubling information about Lisa Bloom,” Ron V. declared, referring to the revelations about her work for Weinstein. “I was appalled to learn about her conduct and aggressive tactics. She was the opposite of what I thought abuse victims’ advocates should be and although I did not want her associated with my daughter’s case, I remained silent…
“On or around March 20, 2020, Ms. Liberty called to tell me that the Bloom Firm had decided to no longer co-counsel on my daughter’s case effective immediately. I was relieved because I thought they were a detriment to IV’s case due to Ms. Bloom’s continuous bad press coverage.”
Here is the full response from Bloom Firm managing attorney Arick Fudali:
This is a simple contractual dispute between two law firms. Unfortunately, Liberty Law has placed her own clients in the center of this dispute, using them to their detriment, and is publicly manipulating this dispute to defame The Bloom Firm to gain leverage in the currently-pending arbitration proceeding between our firms.
The Bloom Firm dissolved the joint venture with Liberty Law due to multiple complaints by Bloom Firm staff concerning the way they were treated by Micha Liberty. Bloom Firm employees described Ms. Liberty’s treatment as abusive and bullying. This was in direct contrast to the collaborative and empowering environment fostered by The Bloom Firm. As such, after multiple complaints about Ms. Liberty’s treatment of staff, The Bloom Firm dissolved the Joint Venture.
During the Joint Venture, The Bloom Firm hired the entire staff of attorneys and paralegals to run Liberty Law’s cases, trained and paid all salaries of staff, paid office and case expenses for them, and allowed the cases to go forward for its deserving clients. In addition, Bloom Firm attorneys and staff in our LA and NY offices contributed significant time and work on the cases. Liberty Law refuses to live up to its written promises made, necessitating the arbitration. The Bloom Firm filed an arbitration against Liberty Law on June 3, 2020.
Regarding the liens, The Bloom Firm is only seeking its fair share of the attorneys’ fees and does not seek any of the client’s portion. The Bloom Firm does not wish to delay the client’s receiving their portion of the funds and intends to tell the Court to release the client’s portion of the funds immediately at the forthcoming hearing. As stated in our filing (attached), the guardians of our former clients agreed in writing to give consent to the joint representation of TBF and LLO, to split attorney’s fees obtained by their recovery in the case between TBF and LLO, and to apply the terms of the original retainer agreement to all attorneys who worked on their case. As also stated in our filing (attached), Ms. Liberty helped draft the Agreement and agreed to it being sent to the clients.
The global pandemic has forced many offices in Los Angeles to close their doors. As a safety precaution, The Bloom Firm employees are working from home and The Bloom Firm is using a P.O. Box for convenience of receiving and sending mail, when necessary.
Read more at The Daily Beast.
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