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Blanks v. Shaw
California Court of Appeal
171 Cal. App. 4th 336 (2009)
Billy Blanks (plaintiff), the celebrity creator of the Tae Bo workout, hired Jeffrey Greenfield as an accountant. In that capacity, Greenfield also attempted to procure employment opportunities for Blanks, including two television shows, even though Greenfield was not a licensed talent agent. However, Greenfield’s lack of negotiation skills and failure to pursue viable opportunities resulted in diminished employment for Blanks. Blanks hired a law firm, Seyfarth Shaw, LLP (Shaw) (defendant), to initiate a case against Greenfield. This included a claim under the Talent Agencies Act (TAA), which required that procurement of employment in the entertainment industry be performed only by licensed agents. The TAA also required all potential claims to be submitted to the labor commissioner, subject to a one-year statute of limitations. However, Shaw bypassed the labor commissioner and filed all claims—including the TAA claim—in civil court. By the time the TAA claim reached the attention of the labor commissioner, the one-year period had expired, rendering the claim unactionable. The commissioner ruled that Blanks could not recover from Greenfield. Blanks brought a malpractice action against Shaw and another attorney, William Lancaster (defendant) arguing that their malpractice prevented Blanks from recovering the $10.6 million he had paid to Greenfield. The jury awarded Blanks $10.6 million. Shaw and Lancaster appealed. The California Court of Appeal granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Aldrich, J.)
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