About one month ago, former Republic Group president Charlie Walk named law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres (KBT) in an over $60 million complaint for the allegedly “botched representation” that he received ahead of his departure from UMG. Now, the New York City-based law firm is demanding that Walk and his legal team withdraw the suit.
To recap, Charlie Walk became president of UMG’s Republic Group in early 2013 and was indefinitely suspended from the company in January of 2018, due to sexual-abuse allegations levied against him by one Tristan Coopersmith.
She and Walk had worked together not at UMG, but at Sony Music – a point that bears reiterating, as the 52-year-old former Republic head stated that Universal Music was contractually prohibited from terminating (or threatening to terminate) him over alleged misconduct that occurred before he signed with the company.
Other women then came forward with sexual-misconduct claims of their own, though Walk said in his lawsuit against Kasowitz Benson Torres (as well as attorney Marc Kasowitz in particular) that these individuals “were either disgruntled former employees or persons whose claims were demonstrably false.”
Walk also indicated that UMG “violated its own employment agreement with” him by publicizing the initial allegations and accepted the first accuser’s “false claims at face value because it was convenient to do so,” as opposed to performing a comprehensive investigation.
And in terms of the “legal malpractice” that the 28-year-old law firm purportedly committed, KBT allegedly “pressed him [Walk] to enter into a quick settlement with UMG in order to avoid further publicity,” thereby failing to “fulfill their most fundamental responsibilities to their client—informing him that he had a strong alternative to signing the settlement agreement.”
As initially mentioned, Kasowitz Benson Torres is demanding that Walk and his legal team voluntarily dismiss the complaint, which it says encompasses a “ludicrously false” premise.
The opening line of the firmly worded letter that KBT (and specifically co-founding partner Daniel Benson) sent to Walk’s counsel specifies: “I write to provide you with one opportunity to voluntarily dismiss this case with prejudice.
“If you do so by 5:30 p.m. on April 27, 2021,” the message continues, “we will not seek sanctions from you and your client. If you do not do so by then, we will seek all available costs, attorneys’ fees and other sanctions against you and your client.”
From there, the three-page-long letter states that the recipients’ “conduct in filing this case against Mr. Kasowitz and our firm… is frivolous” and that the action “is completely without merit in law, undertaken primarily to harass or maliciously injure Kasowitz and asserts egregiously false material factual statements.”
Among these “numerous egregious falsehoods” is the aforementioned claim that KBT compelled Walk to accept a settlement agreement, according to the text, as “Kasowitz fully informed Walk of his options to settle or to litigate at all times during the representation.”
Moreover, the law firm states that external attorney (and purported longtime friend of Walk) John Singer “participated in numerous conference calls with Walk and attorneys at our firm” and would testify that the former Republic president was expressly informed of the pros and cons of litigating and settling, among other things.
“Contrary to your complaint,” the letter proceeds, “Walk was accused of misconduct he committed while employed at UMG, and UMG retained an independent law firm to conduct an investigation of those accusations.
“Based on that investigation, which included a complainant reporting Walk had tried to kiss her at a UMG party, UMG threatened to terminate him for cause, and had clear justification based on the facts reported to UMG for doing so under its harassment policy.”
Portions of the message’s final paragraphs (the terms that Walk allegedly insisted be included in the settlement agreement and, interestingly, something that Walk allegedly wished to avoid by accepting the settlement) are redacted, but the remaining text indicates that Walk’s “principal concern” was a “deep fear about being publicly fired for cause,” specifically with regard to its possible impact upon “his son’s potential matriculation to a particular college.”
“Indeed, Walk said if he chose to walk away from [the redacted settlement amount] that Kasowitz obtained for him and instead fought UMG, it was likely that his wife would divorce him,” the no-holds-barred document relays.
Finally, the letter describes as “patently false” the idea that Kasowitz Benson Torres compelled Walk to settle, as it was purportedly “ready, willing and able to litigate, and to do so aggressively.
“Your client apparently wants to smear Mr. Kasowitz and this firm to try to repair his reputation which his own misconduct sullied. He will be unable to do so. Your participation in his effort by defaming Mr. Kasowitz and this firm in your fictional complaint and in your statements to the media is sanctionable.
“If the complaint is not withdrawn immediately, we will take all necessary and appropriate steps to obtain redress for your and your client’s outrageous conduct,” the message concludes.
At the time of this piece’s publishing, it didn’t appear that Walk or his counsel had commented publicly on the letter and ultimatum from Kasowitz Benson Torres, and it remains to be seen whether they will in fact withdraw the suit.
More as this develops.