Michael Bacall has sued his former lawyer for allegedly rendering unlicensed legal services, and the fight could be taken to the California Supreme Court.
Former lawyer for screenwriter Michael Bacall owes him nearly half a million dollars in reimbursed commissions and attorney fees as a California appeals court refused to overturn an arbitration award in favor of the scribe .
Bacall, whose CV includes 21 Jump Street and the next adaptation of Stephen King’s The running man, in March 2017, Jeffrey Shumway continued, saying the attorney continued to represent him after his state attorney status became “inactive” in 2014. Bacall had worked with the attorney for the late years. 80 and said he was tricked into signing a contract to formalize their relationship. in 2016, even though Shumway was no longer fired.
AAA arbitrator Michael C. Donaldson in March 2019 concluded that Shumway had indeed acted as unlicensed attorney and declared their written agreements illegal. He awarded Bacall $ 201,025 in returned commission, plus $ 237,600 for attorney fees and costs.
Shumway filed a motion to quash the award arguing that Donaldson had exceeded his powers, but LA County Superior Court Judge Ruth Kwan found the arbitrator had not overstepped and later dismissed a request to reconsider its decision.
A California appeals court also sided with Bacall on Thursday.
“Despite framing their argument in terms of the powers of the arbitrators, the appellants essentially argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the decision to hold Shumway responsible for the reimbursement of commissions,” Judge Sam Ohta wrote. “Even if this were true, it would not justify the cancellation of the prize.”
He continued: “Contrary to what the appellants claim, the arbitrator did not regulate the practice of law or impose discipline on them. It is clear that he instead concluded that the respondents were entitled to restitution because that Shumways’ unauthorized practice of law rendered parts of the 2016 and 2017 agreements illegal. The arbitrator acted in accordance with his authority in so concluding. “
The Appeal Board dismissed Bacall’s request to sanction Shumway for filing a frivolous appeal, concluding that no clear evidence had been submitted to show “subjective bad faith in connection with this appeal, and the appeal does not Nor does it appear to fall into the category of “ most egregious conduct. ”
Bacall is represented by Bryan Freedman and Sean Hardy of Freedman & Taitelman. Freedman sent The Hollywood Reporter this statement in response to the decision: The arbitrator, the superior court and now the court of appeal have all confirmed that Mr. Shumway is personally liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars due to the unauthorized exercise of the law. Mr. Shumway should take responsibility for his misconduct and comply with the judgment which has been repeatedly upheld.
Shumway, who is portrayed by James Fitzgerald, also sent THR a statement and said he intended to continue fighting. The California Court of Appeals ruling both ignores and misapplies clear California law regulating the practice of talent agents, attorneys and managers in the entertainment industry, ”he said. These errors are particularly glaring given that they are at the center of the ongoing actions between the Writers Guild of America and the Association of Talent Agents. We hope the California Supreme Court will correct these errors.
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