Curtis Jackson, better known as the rapper 50 Cent, filed a lawsuit in Connecticut bankruptcy court this week seeking $75 million in damages from his former lawyers.
Should have forgot about Dre
Curtis Jackson was once heralded by The New York Times for his business acumen. The rapper who gave the world “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” was once very rich with an estimated net worth of nearly half a billion dollars. A large chunk of this money was made from his position as a minority owner of Vitamin Water prior to Coca-Cola purchasing the company (Glaceau) for over $4 billion in 2007.
“I took quarter-water, sold it in bottles for two bucks,” he once rapped. “Coca-Cola came and bought it for billions. What the [expletive]?”
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Perhaps he should have stopped there. Instead, seeing the money that Dr. Dre was making from Beats By Dre, 50 Cent decided that he would also get into the headphone business. In 2010, Mr. Jackson struck a partnership with the company Sleek Audio to produced a brand of headphones called “Sleek by 50.” That partnership never panned out with Sleek failing to meet its launch date after 50 Cent invested somewhere around $2 million.
As a result, Mr. Jackson formed his own company called SMS Audio to get the headphone line on the market. The decision, according to Mr. Jackson, came with assurances from his lawyers that he was not infringing on intellectual property rights held by Sleek. Those lawyers from the firm Garvey Schubert Barer, apparently turned out to be quite mistaken.
Arbitration with Sleek Audio
Sleek filed an arbitration proceeding against the rapper, and the arbitrator awarded Sleek over $11 million in damages and nearly $5 million in attorney fees. This clearly left a bad taste in 50 Cent’s mouth (not unlike Vitamin Water) and led to this week’s lawsuit.
50 Cent is claiming that the firm of Garvey Schubert Barer (GSB) failed to “employ the requisite knowledge and skill necessary to confront the circumstances of the case.”
The complaint when on to say:
Among GSB’s numerous failures was its inexplicable decision not to call technical and damages experts to rebut expert testimony offered by Sleek — failures relied upon by the arbitrator in crediting Sleek’s experts and entering an eight-figure award in Sleek’s favor.
GSB’s response to 50 Cent
Apparently, according to sources, the lawsuit filed this week stems from GSB’s and 50 Cent’s inability to reach a settlement. The law firm intends to fight the suit in court and in a statement made to Business Insider it is clear that they feel they represented the rapper properly:
We understand that Mr. Jackson is disappointed in the outcome of Sleek Audio’s arbitration against him. However, Mr. Jackson’s complaint against GSB omits a number of relevant facts and misstates a number of others, and we will respond to the allegations in accordance with the court’s rules. Our attorneys properly counseled Mr. Jackson and his sophisticated team of financial and operational advisors about the transactions and the arbitrations with Sleek. Unfortunately, the arbitrator in the Sleek case found Mr. Jackson responsible for his actions and the actions of those who performed services for him or his companies. We look forward to demonstrating that our attorneys handled the Sleek matters appropriately in all aspects.