Origami condom inventor Daniel Resnic will now have to find a third lawyer to take up his case against accusations that he wasted millions of taxpayer dollars.
The law firm representing Resnic, who received over $2.4 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop so-called origami condoms, was granted a motion to be removed as his counsel on Oct. 28 in the Superior Court of Los Angeles.
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Martin J. Kaufman, of the Kaufman Law Firm, said he could no longer represent his client because Resnic refused to pay him or cooperate with the case, expressing fears that he would be held "captive" as Resnic’s attorney.
Resnic filed a lawsuit against a former employee, accusing the employee of stealing $257,000 in federal grant funding in January. The employee filed a counter suit, alleging that it was Resnic who wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on lavish trips, full-body plastic surgery, and parties at the Playboy mansion.
The employee, who has requested anonymity, supplied hundreds of documents to the Washington Free Beacon supporting his claims. He has recently been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, according to an e-mail from the District Attorney’s office to the employee that was viewed by the Free Beacon.
In a motion filed on Oct. 6, Kaufman asked to be removed as Resnic’s attorney, citing his difficulties as a client.
"There has been an irreparable breakdown of the attorney-client relationship between this firm and the client, such that it would be impossible for this firm to continue representation of client in this matter," Kaufman wrote. "Client refuses to pay legal fees, adequately communicate and/or cooperate in prosecution of this case."
"Given these facts, coupled with other matters which cannot be addressed herein due to the attorney-client privilege, it is legally and ethically impossible for this firm to continue with this representation," he said.
Kaufman also sought to expedite the process, asking to move up the hearing to consider his removal as counsel that was originally scheduled for Nov. 17.
"Without going into too great of detail, and without violating or breaching any attorney-client privilege, Mr. Resnic refuses to: (1) pay my fees or costs; (2) adequately communicate with my firm; (3) cooperate with the prosecution of his complaint; and (4) cooperate with the defense against [defendant’s] cross-complaint," he wrote in an ex parte application filed on Oct. 7.
"Without an order shortening time, [The Kaufman Law Firm] TKLF will effectively be held ‘captive’ as counsel to Resnic, who has refused to pay TKLF, communicate with TKLF, or provide any significant assistance whatsoever in this representation," Kaufman wrote. He added that he tried to meet with Resnic before filing the application "to no avail."
Judge Ernest M. Hiroshige granted Kaufman’s request on Oct. 28, ruling, "counsel has shown good cause for withdrawal."
Kaufman had replaced Joanna Ghosh, another lawyer at the Kaufman Law Firm, as Resnic’s attorney in March.
Resnic has been sued for sexual harassment, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress by his former employee, who asked to remain anonymous.
The counter-suit also accuses Resnic of "treating federal and state grants as though they were his personal slush fund," using grant money on full-body plastic surgery in Costa Rica, lavish vacations, parties at the Playboy Mansion, a Cadillac, and a condo in Provincetown, Mass.
Resnic’s inability to keep a lawyer is reminiscent to his dealings with three different contractors he hired to renovate the condo. According to the employee, Resnic paid $300,000 for the property with grant funds, and spent $163,991.80 on renovations between 2011 and 2012.
Resnic fired two companies, Cape Tip Construction and B and C Construction Inc., before settling on a third contractor, JC Donald Inc., to finish the job, according to a memo outlining a lawsuit he was planning against a contractor in 2012.
One of his complaints against a company was that they "installed the curved wall crooked."
Request for comment regarding the lawsuit from Resnic were not returned. The next hearing will be on Nov. 17.