Attorney and potential 2020 White House candidate Michael Avenatti was hit with a $4.85 million judgment Monday by a California judge over an unpaid debt to a former law partner.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dennis Landin made the ruling after Avenatti tried to have the case moved to federal court, which Jason Frank's side called a stalling tactic, the Associated Press reports.
Frank said Avenatti had not paid up on a previous settlement agreement, Law & Crime reported. Avenatti called the lawsuit at the time it was filed "frivolous:"
Frank claimed that when he worked with Avenatti’s former firm Eagan Avenatti, he had an independent contractor arrangement that said he would receive 25% of the firm’s annual profits and 20% of his client’s fees. Frank said he was also supposed to get copies of the firm’s tax returns and other financial records. His lawsuit, filed in May of this year, alleged that the firm didn’t provide the records, misstated what their profits were, and didn’t pay him the amount due to him. In February 2016 he filed a demand to go to arbitration, and resigned from the firm months later.
The two sides eventually reached a settlement agreement, whereby the firm would pay Frank $4.85 million, but Frank sued when he did not receive any payment by the deadline set in the agreement.
In a statement to Law&Crime, Avenatti responded to the verdict by saying, "Any amount awarded Jason Frank will be deducted from the $12 Million he owes me and my firm for his outright fraud in stealing clients, etc."
Avenatti's confidence about the hearing last week did not age well. He told The Daily Beast that "nothing's gonna happen on Monday" and Frank's claims were "bogus."
Frank also won a $10 million judgment against the law firm Eagan Avenatti. The firm is facing eviction from its office in Newport Beach, for what its landlord calls failure to make $213,254 in rent payments over the last four months.
The Daily Beast reported last week on court records showing Avenatti and various companies of his owed millions in unpaid taxes and judgments.
Avenatti has become one of the most nationally prominent members of the opposition to President Donald Trump through his representation of porn actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels claims she and Trump had a sexual encounter in 2006 and she received a hush payment from his campaign ahead of the 2016 election that could constitute a campaign finance violation.
A judge tossed out Daniels' defamation lawsuit against Trump after he accused her of lying about having sex with him. She is still suing him and his former attorney Michael Cohen to invalidate a non-disclosure agreement she signed.
Avenatti has sought to position himself in a crowded potential 2020 Democratic field by being the most "Trump-like," attacking the president on social media, making triple-digit appearances on cable news and saying the party has to be tougher to stop Trump.