50 Cent Raps Reed Smith With $35M Malpractice Claim

Curtis Jackson Legal Malpractice ClaimLaw.com reported that rapper 50 Cent, fresh off of a $14.5 million settlement of a legal malpractice claim against Garvey Schubert Barer, has filed a $35 million claim against Am Law 100 firm Reed Smith LLP.

The rapper, whose legal name is Curtis Jackson III, alleges that Reed Smith and its attorney, Peter Raymond, mishandled his defense against a lawsuit filed by Lastonia Leviston, the mother of his rival rap artist Rick Ross’ children, who alleged that Jackson violated her privacy by posting a sex tape of her and her then-boyfriend on his website in 2009.

A jury awarded Leviston $5 million in damages, which grew to $7 million after punitive damages were added. The judgment led Jackson to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July, 2015.

Jackson’s malpractice claim accuses Reed Smith of:

  • Not calling prospective witnesses who could’ve swayed the jury or mitigated the damages that were awarded to Leviston;
  • Not adequately preparing for trial;
  • Charging excessive fees.

The main allegation regarding witness testimony is that the Reed Smith and attorney Raymond failed to locate and depose or produce for trial the other party in the sex tape,  Maurice Murray, and then “attempted to hide their negligence by misrepresenting that they made a good faith effort to locate Murray … when, in fact, Murray was easily locatable and available to be interviewed and called as a pre-trial and trial witness.”

Jackson alleges that Murray gave him the sex-tape, and that Murray had the “authority and right” to share and publish it.

Jackson also claims that Reed Smith failed to depose William Ross, who first published the sex video on his music website, and Ross’ Internet Service Provider. “Ross and the Internet provider should also have been deposed to establish Jackson’s defenses [that he did not initially post the video] and, at the very least, would have severely mitigated both the actual and punitive damages against Jackson as found by the jury.”

Jackson also alleges that “Reed Smith and Raymond, without consulting Jackson and without his consent, stipulated with attorneys for Leviston … that Reed Smith would not examine…[Murray and Ross] in pre-trial discovery proceedings and that no witness would be called at trial unless the identity of the witness was disclosed pursuant to the [binding, pretrial] stipulation.”

Regarding the legal fees, Jackson alleges that that Reed Smith and Raymond didn’t notify him before increasing the hourly billing rate that was specified in the retainer agreement. He claims to have paid the firm $1.5 million in legal fees and expenses for its representation in the sex tape matter.

Jackson also alleges that Reed Smith handled his case so poorly, that he had to obtain new counsel on the eve of trial. However, the firm “failed and refused to cooperate with new trial counsel, which caused Jackson to be subject to an unfavorable jury verdict.”

He demands that Reed Smith, which had represented him for 12 years, reimburse him for the $7 million verdict, and pay him an additional $25 million in damages.

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About Curtis Cooper

Curtis Cooper is principal of Lawyers Insurance Group – Broker For Great Law Firms, which helps attorneys optimize their malpractice coverage. Contact him by phone: (202) 802-6415, or email: ccooper “at” lawyersinsurer.com.