Contract Dispute

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Miami Attorney Tom J Manos Wins Dismissal of $60 Million Fraud Case in Miami Court Against His Client in Favor of Venezuelan Forum

Tom J. Manos, representing a Miami defendant who was doing business with a failed stock brokerage in Venezuela, won an appeal affirming the dismissal of a case in Miami-Dade Circuit Court alleging a $60 million fraud, civil theft and conspiracy against his client in favor of litigation in the courts of Venezuela on forum non conveniens grounds.

The doctrine of forum non conveniens permits defendants to move to dismiss cases filed in Florida where a foreign forum would be more convenient for the defendant and the court finds the alternative forum to be available and adequate to hear the case.

In this case, Manos obtained a dismissal in the trial court for his client in favor of litigating in the courts of Venezuela, arguing at an evidentiary hearing that Venezuela's court system was an adequate alternative forum for the litigation and that other factors also favored Venezuela's courts over Miami's courts. On appeal of the dismissal order, and after oral argument, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed without opinion on February 26, 2014, and on March 31, 2014 denied a motion by the plaintiff for rehearing and rehearing en banc, or in the alternative for a written opinion. See, Vasquez-Estrella v. Camperos, Case No. 11-035080, Miami-Dade Circuit Court, Third District Court of Appeal case No. 13-2342. The appllate court's order is now final.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Copyright and Contract Case Gets Complicated

Finally, After Seven Years, A Ruling in the “Ghost Hunters” Dispute

Actors, models, artists, writers and others in the entertainment field are go-getters who use their ideas and talents to make a living and, in some cases, make it big. But, as a parapsychologist and publicist learned last month, it takes more than ability, drive and creativity to ensure your rights are protected when partnering with studios, production houses and other organizations.

In 1996, parapsychologist Larry Montz and publicist Daena Smoller conceived of an idea to create a TV show about investigators who explore allegedly haunted locations. That same year, they pitched their idea to NBCUniversal Studios (NBCU). When they left the studio, they claim to have believed that an understanding existed between them and the studio - if the studio produced a ghost hunter-type show at a later date, it would partner with them.

Ghost Hunters premiered in 2004, and approximately a year passed before Smoller and Montz became aware of the program. Another year passed before they filed a copyright lawsuit against NBCU. The case was complex from the start due to a number of factors:

  • Questions arose as to whether the case involved copyright law or contract/implied contract law. The case originally relied on the former before switching to the latter.
  • The case relied on the ownership of an idea, not an expression. (Remember the Case against The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown? The historians who first popularized ideas used in The Da Vinci Code sued and lost. The courts found that Brown was free to use their ideas in a fictional work.) General ideas are much more difficult to copyright than artistic expressions.
  • Questions regarding the statute of limitations (i.e. the time limit for filing a claim) arose: did the statute of limitations begin upon publication of the show or upon the plaintiffs’ discovery of the alleged copyright violation? Why did the plaintiffs wait so long before filing a claim? And did the defendant fraudulently conceal broadcasts of the show from the plaintiffs, and would such a move affect the statute of limitations?

For seven years, each side enjoyed minor legal successes before an appellate court ruled in favor of NBCUniversal in April of this year. The case contains numerous technical legal lessons, but the primary take-away is that protecting both ideas and copyrighted material is challenging.

An experienced entertainment and copyright attorney can protect your rights to material and content once a dispute arises, and help prevent legal disputes by implementing safeguards for your work or ideas. Tom J. Manos of Manos & Associates, PL in Miami, has more than 30 years of legal experience and can provide the legal representation you need. To schedule a consultation, please call 305-341-3100.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rapper Faces $16 Million Loss in a Partnership Dispute with Florida Company

Celebrity product lines can be lucrative, but beware the fine print.

For many celebrities and entertainers, artistically creative years are followed by lucrative years during which licensing, endorsement and joint venture deals lead to high-value personal incomes. Business opportunities are often governed by contracts, which have the potential to result in costly litigation if not adhered to completely. A dispute between celebrity rapper 50 Cent and a Florida personal headset manufacturer and marketer illustrates the need for a clearly-outlined contract in any entertainment-related business agreement.

In 2010, 50 Cent (whose real name is Curtis Jackson), partnered with Sleek Audio of Bradenton. Specifically, Jackson lent $285,000 to the company so that they could develop 50 Cent-branded headphones. Sleek created the headphones per its agreement with Jackson, but Jackson became frustrated with the speed at which Sleek brought the new products to market. In 2011, Jackson brought Sleek’s headphone designs to the Delray Beach manufacturer SMS Audio, who then proceeded to produce several headset lines for Jackson.

In its complaint, Sleek claimed that Jackson did not follow through on his obligation to launch a product line with them, and then launched a line featuring designs Sleek-owned designs. Faced with courtroom litigation, Jackson eventually agreed to have the dispute arbitrated.

During the arbitration proceedings, Jackson expressed frustration with the company’s alleged poor management, he claimed that Sleek fraudulently induced him to invest in the company. The arbitrator responded with sympathy to Jackson’s frustration, but also indicated that it did not justify Jackson taking Sleek’s intellectual property to another firm. The final ruling was a serious blow to Jackson: $4.5 million in attorneys fees and $11.7 million in damages.

As this case demonstrates, frustration, impulse and even good business sense are no substitute for carefully following both the law and the specific terms of a business contract. If you need legal assistance regarding entertainment and contract law in Florida, contact Attorney Tom J. Manos in Miami. We can assist you both in the creation of business agreements and with litigation in the event of a dispute. Call us at 305-341-3100.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Florida Museum Served with Contract Lawsuit

Business people in Miami and the surrounding area strive to establish contracts only with people and companies they know they can depend on, but sometimes a company doesn't live up to its reputation and problems arise with a contract. Such was the case (allegedly) for Volusia County-based marketing company Markalyst LLC, when they entered into an agreement with a Florida museum...

Things just got surreal for the museum that houses the artwork of Salvador Dalí, "the father of surrealism." The Dalí Museum is being sued by consulting company Markalyst for breaching their contract agreement and abandoning an unpaid balance of more than $230,000.

Markalyst filed a suit against the museum in late 2013, claiming breach of contract and unjust enrichment, and is seeking a jury trial. The reason for their lawsuit is pretty clear- Markalyst didn't receive the money owed to them for services rendered. Under Florida law (and other states), a plaintiff has to allege that a contract actually existed in the first place in order to file a breach. They must argue that:

  • a valid contract existed
  • there was a material breach of the contract. Meaning the plaintiff did not receive the "substantial benefit" of the deal- in this case it was money
  • damages resulted from the breach, and
  • there are no valid defenses for the breach

Are oral contracts considered valid? Yes, but a plaintiff must allege offer, acceptance and consideration. 

According to the lawsuit, the museum hired the consulting company to develop recommendations for new marketing objectives, strategies and processes, for which the museum originally planned to pay $300,000 over an extended period of time. Payments were to be made in installments due to the museum's "cash position" - a point which was not elaborated in the suit. Though Markalyst completed the work in July 2013, the museum told the company they would not be making any further payments on the project, despite the remaining balance of $233,200. The museum only paid a fraction, just $66,800, of the project's total cost, between January and August of that year.

If you are concerned you might be the victim of a contract breach, call the offices of Manos, Alwine, PL in Miami, Florida at 305-341-3100. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Breach of Contract Woes for Latin Singer in Miami

Several Colombian government arts associations in Tunja, Colombia and Florida-based Miami Entertainment CMG accused famed Latin singer Paulina Rubio of a breach of contract after she failed to appear for a scheduled performance in Colombia back in November of 2010 as part of the Festival International Culture of Boyacá. The Tunjan government organizations and the entertainment company joined forces to file the breach of contract suit against Rubio in Miami.

Why was Rubio a no-show at her own concert?

Though Rubio claims she planned her trip according to the instructions outlined by both organizations, she experienced unforeseen challenges that prevented her from making the scheduled performance.  The singer states that she planned on arriving at the scheduled venues, but was unable to land in Tunja. Both Miami Entertainment and the government of Tunja insist Rubio was made aware of the area's limitations regarding travel when she entered into the agreement. Since Tunja does not maintain an airstrip, Rubio was told she would have to land elsewhere and be driven into the city. The singer supposedly landed in a nearby city on a private jet, and then refused to travel to Tunja overland with a military escort, a plan that the petitioners claim she agreed to previously. Though Rubio's band and manager arrived in time for the August 2010 performance, she never showed up.

Miami-Dade jury will hear the case

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Abby Cynamon ruled in December 2013 that Rubio's case will be heard by a jury, though a trial date has yet to be set.

What happens if the court rules against Rubio? If the alleged breach of contract is established in court, Rubio could potentially owe approximately $1 million in legal fees and interest on lost concert earnings.

The legal breakdown...

As the petitioners' note, this alleged breach of contract resulted in lost revenue and damaged the reputation of both the Miami entertainment company and the venues in Tunja who claim they were not to blame for Rubio's no-show. Breaching a contract can have far-reaching implications, and although Rubio argues she is not personally liable for her failure to deliver a performance, the Miami judge ruled that is something the jury will have to decide.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Non-Compete Agreements Rankle, but They Remain Enforceable in Many Instances

Non-compete agreements are among the most contested of contracts, perhaps because they are viewed both as unnecessary and as slightly un-American. Frequent comments heard by contract attorneys handling non-compete agreement disputes include “Who will gain if this agreement is enforced?” and “How can they stop me from doing my job and making a living?”

Earlier this month, a Court of Appeals in Tennessee went far in answering these questions when it resolved a Tennessee non-compete agreement case with a Florida connection.

In 2010, two executives began work at a Tennessee corporation. Each signed a contract stating that:

  • The executives would not compete with their employer anywhere their employer did business in the U.S. for two years
  • The executives would not engage in any business their employer was engaged in or [had] taken steps to be engaged in prior to the executive’s termination of employment
  • The contracts would be “construed under” and “enforced in accordance” with the … laws of the State of Florida

In 2011, both executives resigned, and then filed lawsuits in which they claimed that the non-compete contracts were void and unenforceable. Their former employer filed a counterclaim, and, eventually, the Court of Appeals decided that the non-compete agreements were:

  • Enforceable because they reasonably and necessarily protected the employer’s legitimate interests
  • Overly broad in scope: their primary purpose of preventing the formation of a competing business was not served by limiting business engagement options

The Court of Appeals also ruled that Florida law contravened Tennessee’s public policy as it pertained to this dispute therefore could not and did not apply.

This case illustrates that employers may still effectively protect their interests via non-compete agreements. However, the outcome of any dispute may be more assured with the knowledgeable and strategic counsel of an experienced contract attorney.

An attorney can determine the full range of protection that a non-compete contract can validly offer. For example, in addition to preventing the formation of a competing start-up, a non-compete agreement can protect valuable intellectual property. And by avoiding overly broad and unenforceable provisions, an attorney can help prevent conflicts and litigation. For more information regarding effective non-compete agreements, contact the law office of Manos &Alwine, P.L., at 305-341-3100.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Estate of Mario Puzo, Paramount Pictures settle countersuits

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos, Alwine & Kubiliun, P.L.

Back in September, we told Miami readers about how the estate of Mario Puzo, the author of the novel "The Godfather," and Paramount Pictures, which made the film version, were suing one another. Now, a resolution to this entertainment lawsuit has been reached.

As you may remember, Paramount Pictures was not pleased with the idea of "The Family Corleone," a novel Puzo wrote about the same family he wrote about in "The Godfather."

Read more . . .

Monday, December 10, 2012

Contract dispute between British singer, 'The X-Factor' means a $2.3M lawsuit

Chances are very few Miami residents know who Cheryl Cole is. Although the singer gained popularity in her native United Kingdom, first as a member of the girl group "Girls Aloud" and then as a solo artist, she is not very well known on this side of the Atlantic.

That might explain why Cole was eager to sign up as a judge for "The X Factor." Naturally, a judging gig on that show would have increased her profile in the U.S., likely boosting sales of her albums and singles.

But Cole never got that chance.

She was fired before the first season even began. Some people said it was because "X-Factor" producer and fellow judge Simon Cowell wanted a bigger star; others said it was because her thick British accident was difficult for American audiences to understand.

Late last week, Cole filed a $2.3 million lawsuit against the production studio that creates "The X Factor," alleging that it had given her had a two-year contract and only partially fulfilled it.

Both sides agree that Cole was paid $1.8 million and given certain one-time expenses in fulfillment of the terms of the first year of her contract, but Cole believes she is owed for the second year of her contract as well. She is also asking to be reimbursed for her legal fees.

We have not seen the contract at the center of this dispute, but we commend Cole for standing up for herself and what she believes to be her rights. Because we often represent artists, musicians and other creative people, we understand what it's like to have to fight to get what you deserve; it can be tough, but in many cases, it is important.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "Fired 'X Factor' Judge Cheryl Cole Sues for $2.3 million," Alex Ben Block, Dec. 7, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Kesha settles lawsuit with ex-manager

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

In our last post, we told Miami residents about a lawsuit by a former manager against pop sensation Shakira.

Jus the other day, we found a story showing that the "Whenever, Wherever" singer isn't the only one who has gotten into a legal scrape with a former manager recently.

This week, Kesha, the singer behind hits such as "Your Love Is My Drug" and "Tik Tok," settled a lawsuit that had been brought by her former manager back in 2011.

The former manager had alleged that Kesha violated an agreement that was signed before her career took off. The contract allegedly said that Kesha would pay her manager 20 percent of revenue she generated if she got signed to a major label, but would owe nothing if she did not get a contract.

When Kesha fired that manager and started with working with another, the first manager sued. He asked for $14 million from Kesha and $12 million from her new producer.

Kesha's legal team has not commented directly on the lawsuit, but the sides reached a settlement this week. Neither would disclose the terms, though a statement was released saying both sides were pleased with the outcome.

Now, we cannot speak directly to Kesha's legal situation, because we are not intimately familiar with it. However, some elements of what we do know do bear a passing similarity to an all-too-familiar scenario: managers or other entertainment professionals see a diamond in the rough before he or she has made it big and then try to siphon off that professional's fortune once he or she has "arrived," professionally speaking.

It's a dog-eat-dog world out there and while there is nothing you can do to insulate yourself fully from people who would take advantage of you, having legal representation whom you trust and respect can help a lot.

Source: Idolator, "Ke$ha Settles $14 Million Lawsuit With Former Management," Sam Lansky, Dec. 6, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Shakira sued for $100 million over oral agreement

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

You would think that if millions of dollars were hanging in the balance, the parties to a contract would want to get their agreement down in writing.

But that apparently is not what happened with Shakira and her former business manager, who was also her boyfriend. The former manager recently sued Shakira, claiming that she owes him nearly $100 million by the terms of a contract that, apparently, was strictly oral.

The former manager alleges that he used his business skill and management expertise to help Shakira recover from disappointing album sales by getting her to record her smash hit "Hips Don't Lie," which went to the top of the charts in 25 countries, and "Waka Waka," the official World Cup anthem. Those successes helped Shakira snag a $300 million concert deal with promote and organizer Live Nation.

In a separate case, Shakira has sued the former manager for "misappropriation of funds." She has alleged that he paid himself unauthorized bonus and used Shakira's personal funds to pay for his own expenses.

The reason this entertainment dispute caught our eye is the fact that it seems Shakira and her then-manager did not commit their agreement to writing. That certainly is not advisable for anyone, and it is hard to conceive of how no one ever told Shakira and her manager that they ought to.

Getting any sort of agreement you make in writing is always a good idea. Of course, you hope that there is never a reason for an argument to rise over it, but you never know.

Source: BBC News, "Shakira sued for $100m by former boyfriend," Dec. 2, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

Contract dispute: After 22 years of holdup, studio sues Scorsese

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

When two parties make a contract, there is generally the expectation that the service contemplated will be performed promptly, or that the good negotiated over will be delivered reasonably quickly. The parties should make their expected timetables clear, of course, but generally speaking, it is not often that parties make a contract and expect it to last 22 years.

That's why a movie studio is suing famed movie director Martin Scorsese, whom Miami residents know as the creative force behind cinema classics like "Scarface" and "Raging Bull." The studio claims that in 1990, Scorsese agreed to direct a film for the studio, but has put off starting filming for more than two decades.

Scorsese's legal team counters that the director, who has never been what you would call prolific, still wants to make the film (and thus satisfy the contract). It points out that Scorsese and the studio have made five deal amendments to the contract over time and that Scorsese has given the studio more than $3.5 million to atone for his tardiness.

The reason we thought this story was interesting is that it seemed like a situation in which accepting that a party (here, Scorsese) was going to or had breached the contract was not acceptable to the other party (in this case, the studio.)

Sometimes, damages are not enough. You do not want money; you want what was bargained for and what you were promised.

In certain circumstances, that is not possible, but we certainly understand the desire to make a bid for what you wanted in the first place. When we encounter clients who are in the situation we just described, we make every effort and pursue every avenue to get what is desired.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "Martin Scorsese Defends Taking 22 Years and Counting to Direct 'Silence' (Exclusive)" Eriq Gardner, Nov. 27, 2012

Archived Posts


← Newer12 3 4 Older →

Manos Schenk is located in Miami, Florida, and serves Miami as well as the surrounding South Florida communities, including Aventura, Kendall, Coral Gables, Homestead, Pinecrest, Hialeah, Miami Beach, Doral, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Key Biscayne, Coconut Grove, Palm Beach, South Beach, Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County and Monroe County.

© 2019 Manos Schenk PL, Attorneys and Counselors at Law
1001 Brickell Bay Drive, Suite 1200, Miami, FL 33131
| Phone: 305-341-3100

Practice Areas | Media Center | Our Professionals | NEWS


Law Firm Website Design by
Zola Creative