An attorney who worked on two high-profile profit participation lawsuits has filed a suit against her former law firm, alleging she was never paid her fair share of the legal fees from those cases.
Mansi Shah worked on the “Bones” lawsuit for Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP. The case resulted in a $179 million arbitration judgment against Fox, though the award was later slashed to $50 million by an L.A. Superior Court judge, and ultimately settled out of court. She also worked on the “Walking Dead” profits case, representing AMC Networks in its long-running fight with show creator Frank Darabont.
Shah co-founded the law firm’s entertainment practice group in 2013 with John Berlinski, after both left NBCUniversal. According to the suit, they built up a lucrative practice representing profit participants against studios.
Shah says she was the only non-white partner in the firm’s Los Angeles office, and one of only a few nationwide. She alleges that she soon found herself cut off from the opportunities afforded to white partners. She resigned from the firm in May 2016 and now works for Warner Bros.
Shah alleges that Kasowitz Benson is now employing Hollywood studio tactics to deny her share of the fees from her work.
“Ironically, now that Ms. Shah is no longer at the Firm, it has chosen to engage in the same delay and denial tactics it routinely accuses Hollywood studios of employing, in an attempt to avoid its clear contractual and fiduciary obligation to pay Ms. Shah her agreed upon share of the significant revenues generated by the matters she originated with Mr. Berlinski,” the suit alleges.
Under her contract, Shah was entitled to 6.25% of all fees above $1 million generated by her work with Berlinski, up to $500,000 per year. She alleges that she is owed the full $500,000 for each of her two years there, including fees from the “Bones” and “Walking Dead” cases. She also represented Genting Malaysia Berhad, which later sued Fox over a theme park near Kuala Lumpur.
The suit states that the firm initially refused to pay Shah any of her cut of the fees, saying she had given up those rights by resigning. The firm later relented and paid her small amounts, eventually totaling $282,020. The firm has offered to pay her another $324,739, but has not done so, according to the claim.
Shah claims that Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP still owes her more than $717,980, plus interest.