LOS ANGELES (CN) - Steven Tyler's former management company is suing his lawyer for $8 million, claiming she bad-mouthed it during "American Idol" contract negotiations to reap more clients.
"She sold out one client to get many others," Kovac Media Group dba Tenth Street Entertainment (TSE) says of attorney Dina LaPolt in Superior Court.
LaPolt represented both TSE and Tyler when the "American Idol" judge's contract came up for renegotiation in 2011, according to the lawsuit.
Though the complaint never identifies "the artist," it describes him as a popular judge on the show who has a band.
TSE and the record label 11-7 Recording Group say LaPolt, as TSE's attorney, was privy to confidential information about its strategy for trying to land Tyler $6 million to $8 million more per year for his second season as a judge.
"Knowing that the artist was a hot commodity to the show, TSE wanted to employ an aggressive strategy in the renegotiations and leverage artist's popularity to get a more lucrative contract for him," the lawsuit states.
"But instead of supporting the renegotiation efforts, LaPolt went behind the back of her clients, the artist and TSE, to undermine the negotiations so she could benefit herself," the complaint states. "In violation of her attorney-client obligations, she directed communications to an agent for American Idol (the other side) in which she bad-mouthed, disparaged and undermined [TSE Principal Allen] Kovac (her client) and his negotiation strategy and tactics. LaPolt undercut TSE's strategy to leverage the artist's popularity for a more lucrative deal. She told American Idol's agent that Kovac 'overplayed his hand with his aggressive behavior' and that American Idol could get the artist for the cheap, thereby undermining and negating Kovac's/the artist's position in the negotiations." (Parentheses in original.)
The lawsuit continues: "In effect, LaPolt changed sides in the middle of negotiations and revealed the confidential negotiating strategy that she learned as a lawyer representing the artist and TSE. To conceal her treachery, she talked out of both sides of her mouth: on one hand, she told TSE/Kovac that she supports the negotiating strategy but on the other hand she was bad mouthing TSE/Kovac and telling American Idol that she is not supporting the strategy. As a result, TSE was unable to leverage the artist's popularity to obtain a more lucrative American Idol contract, damaging the artist and TSE in the process. Instead of the big increase he had coming, the artist's 'new' American Idol contract was in line with the previous one. LaPolt sold out her own client."
TSE and the record label say LaPolt did this "to curry favor with American Idol to refer her other artists and talent. She sold out one client to get many others. That's exactly what happened - after negotiations were completed, LaPolt signed on to represent numerous American Idol performers."
LaPolt's actions cost Tyler a much more lucrative contract, the plaintiffs claim.
They say LaPolt also persuaded Eric Sherman, a senior employee of TSE, to turn against Kovac and TSE. She then facilitated Sherman and Tyler's departure from TSE to XIX Entertainment, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs say they were forced to release Sherman and assign him the management deal between TSE and Tyler. In return, Sherman was to pay a portion of Tyler's commissions to TSE for two years, according to the complaint.
But TSE and 11-7 say LaPolt breached that agreement.
"LaPolt continued representing the artist," the complaint states. "Earlier in 2012, in a blatant act of interference, LaPolt cut TSE out of it rightful commission for the artist's management as specified in the TSE-Sherman agreement and the assignment agreement. ... TSE's share of the commission on the artist's band touring is worth millions of dollars. LaPolt is lining her pockets with money that she is not entitled to."
The plaintiffs say LaPolt and LaPolt Law P.C. owe $8 million plus punitive damages for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of duty of confidence, intentional interference with a contract and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.
They are represented by Louis Miller of Miller Barondess.