Fargnoli suit dismissed

A conflict-of-interest suit brought against the law firm of Ziffren, Brittenham & Branca by former Prince manager Steve Fargnoli was dismissed Friday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald E. Cappai dismissed the $ 5 million suit, filed in 1992, for lack of merit.

Fargnoli sued ZBB in November 1992 for allegedly advising Prince that he had overpaid his managers under a contract that ZBB had drafted when the firm had represented Fargnoli and his partners. He had originally sued Prince because the rock star had stopped making commission payments. The suit was settled in 1991.

Friday’s ruling was related to the 1991 settlement between the managers and Prince, according to Greg Hafif, an attorney with the Herb Hafif law firm, which represented Fargnoli.

“The judge interpreted that settlement agreement so broadly as to include the Ziffren firm as a party to the settlement,” Hafif said. “It’s quite possibly the worst ruling that’s come down in a long time by any judge.”

Yet Ken Ziffren said it was simply thrown out for lack of merit.

ZBB has been the target of a handful of conflict-of-interest suits over the last two years, the most recent coming from a former ZBB partner, Gregg Homer, who said he was fired after refusing to violate conflict-of-interest rules to put together film deals.

“I think the fact that this suit (from Fargnoli) was thrown out for lack of merit shows that these kinds of matters are best handled through the normal judicial process instead of trying it through the media,” Ziffren said Friday. “We may now have to take additional steps to seek restitution. Our integrity is our most precious asset and we intend to defend that integrity very forcefully with these frivolous lawsuits.”

The attorney representing DeGuere said Friday’s dismissal “in no way” vindicated ZBB.

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