Johnny Depp settles lawsuit with former lawyer for 'eight figures'

LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG) – Hollywood actor Johnny Depp agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement with his long-time entertainment lawyer, whom he accused in a lawsuit of illegally collecting more than US$30 million (S$40 million) in contingent fees without a written contract.

Bloom Hergott, the former firm of now-retired Mr Jake Bloom, paid Depp a “massive eight-figure settlement to avoid the shame of evidence in their looming public trial”, according to Mr Adam Waldman, an attorney representing Depp. A trial had been scheduled for December in Los Angeles.

Mr Bryan Freedman, an attorney for the law firm, said in an e-mail that they had “favourably” settled for a fraction of Depp’s demand.

Depp, 56, is best known for playing Captain Jack Sparrow in Walt Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise (2003 to 2017). He went after his lawyer and his long-time business managers two years ago, accusing them of mishandling his affairs and leaving him stuck with a loan that sucked up all his movie residuals.

A judge’s ruling last year that an oral agreement under which Mr Bloom received 5 per cent of Depp’s income was not enforceable caused an uproar in Hollywood, said Mr Schuyler Moore, an entertainment lawyer with law firm Greenberg Glusker in Los Angeles.

“So many actors, writers and producers have handshake deals with their lawyer,” Mr Moore said in an interview. “That was a very important ruling, even if you don’t normally expect a client to turn on his lawyer.”

Depp was previously involved in a US$25-million lawsuit with his former business managers, The Management Group, in 2017 before they settled for an undisclosed amount in July last year. The Fantastic Beasts (2016 and 2018) actor is currently involved in a US$50-million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard.

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