NEW YORK, September 21, 2015—Robins Kaplan LLP announced today that it has been engaged as special counsel for the debtor in the bankruptcy case commenced by Grammy-winning artist Curtis J. Jackson III p/k/a “50 Cent” in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut (Case No. 15-21233 (AMN)).
In July 2015, Mr. Jackson filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following the confirmation and appeal of an approximately $17.43 million arbitration award and judgment obtained by Sleek Audio LLC and its affiliates against him in Florida State Court and a partial jury verdict in a separate case brought by Lastonia Leviston still pending in New York State Supreme Court.
Robins Kaplan has been retained as special counsel to continue pursuing the appeal of the Sleek Audio judgment in the Florida District Court of Appeals, as well as pursuing potential malpractice claims against Jackson’s former litigation counsel in the Sleek Audio arbitration. Sleek Audio is by far Jackson’s largest creditor in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a scheduled claim of $18 million. The filing and successful prosecution of a malpractice claim is a potential means of recovery for payment to the creditors in the bankruptcy.
Robins Kaplan also has been retained as special counsel to pursue an appeal in connection with the Leviston matter. In July 2015, a New York State Supreme Court jury awarded Ms. Leviston $2.5 million in compensatory damages for a purported violation of New York’s Civil Rights Law and $2.5 million in compensatory damages for purported intentional infliction of emotional distress, with additional awards of $500,000 and $1.5 million for each claim, respectively. A post-trial motion by Jackson’s trial counsel to strike the claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress as duplicative, to reduce the jury’s verdict as excessive, and for other relief, is scheduled for oral argument on January 6, 2016. Robins Kaplan and its national appellate team stands ready to immediately and vigorously pursue an appeal of any eventual judgment entered, regardless of the amount, on multiple grounds.
“It must be noted that Curtis Jackson is legendary for overcoming setbacks, beating the odds and surprising his detractors, and we intend to assist him in doing just that in this matter,” said Craig Weiner, a partner at national trial firm Robins Kaplan. “It is in multiple parties’ best interest to see Mr. Jackson win this battle,” adds Weiner. “This appointment allows us to vigorously protect and aggressively fight for Mr. Jackson’s interests, as well as those of his estate, his creditors, and other parties involved.”
Based in Robins Kaplan’s New York office, Mr. Weiner has worked closely with Mr. Jackson’s general counsel and represented Jackson’s related entities on numerous matters. Mr. Weiner also represents high-net-worth individuals, domestic and foreign hedge funds, private equity funds, venture companies, and government funds in high-stakes commercial litigation matters, including international arbitration.
In addition to Mr. Weiner, the Robins Kaplan team is comprised of entertainment litigation partners Mark Passin and Paul LiCalsi; and bankruptcy partners David Shemano and Howard Weg, Florida litigation partner Michael Whitt, and partner Eric Magnuson (who heads the firm’s appellate practice nationwide). Also on the team are associates Katherine Barrett Wiik, Michael Kolcun, Sherli Furst, Jennifer Leland, Lisa Beane, and Ofer Reger.
Robins Kaplan’s restructuring group is a national leader in representing debtors and creditors’ committees, as well as other constituents, including investors, lenders and indenture trustees, in corporate restructuring and business bankruptcy cases. The firm currently represents the official committee of student creditors in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Corinthian Colleges, Inc., one of the nation’s largest for-profit education companies. In July, the firm was named counsel to the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the bankruptcy case commenced by Local Corp. in the Central District of California, and was most recently named Chapter 11 restructuring counsel for four high-value hotel properties in Manhattan that are affiliated with Gemini Real Estate Advisors.