NEWARK, N.J., Dec. 20, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Jim and Elizabeth Wiatt today filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit seeking punitive and compensatory damages from the international law firm Winston & Strawn LLP and its former partner, Jonathan S. Bristol, for their malpractice and involvement with the Ken Starr Ponzi scheme. Other defendants in the suit include Ponzi architect Kenneth Starr, who recently pled guilty to felony charges, and related Starr parties.
The allegations in the suit include malpractice and conversion against Bristol and Winston & Strawn as a result of the multimillion-dollar theft from Wiatt and his wife by Bristol and Starr. The lawsuit alleges that Wiatt was referred by Starr to Bristol and Winston & Strawn for legal advice. The defendants then allegedly facilitated the theft of the Wiatts' funds, which were laundered through a trust account held by the law firm's partner, Bristol.
The complaint also alleges that Bristol and Winston & Strawn improperly offered to represent the Wiatts in dealing with the Securities & Exchange Commission in what turned out to be its investigation of Starr's and Bristol's misappropriation of funds belonging to Starr's clients, including the Wiatts.
Wiatt is a well-respected entertainment industry executive who now serves as a strategic advisor to media and entertainment companies. The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey on behalf of the Wiatts by David S. Stone, managing partner of Stone & Magnanini LLP.
Bristol was indicted on Thursday by federal prosecutors, who claim that he conspired with Starr to help launder more than $20 million in proceeds from Starr's clients to entities owned or controlled by Starr. At the same time, Bristol was sued by the SEC for helping Starr defraud his celebrity clients and other investors by allowing millions of dollars to pass through Bristol's attorney trust accounts -- monies that were then transferred to Starr for his own personal use. Bristol surrendered to federal authorities on Thursday.
Stone said, "It was bad enough that Ken Starr defrauded his clients, but what makes this even more egregious is that, Bristol -- a prominent partner of a prominent firm -- abused his client relationships with the Wiatts. Winston & Strawn was collecting fees from Starr while, at the same time, purporting to represent the Wiatts without disclosing the potential conflicts that were inherent in such representation. Indeed, as detailed in the complaint, Winston & Strawn has recently gone to great lengths to re-write history in an attempt to erase from its own former press releases facts pertaining to Winston & Strawn's acquisition of Starr's business as a result of its recruitment of Bristol.
"The facts alleged in the complaint demonstrate that Starr and Bristol took advantage of the close relationships they had forged with the Wiatts to the latter's financial and personal detriment," Stone added. "This type of conduct warrants not only compensatory but punitive damages to deter such conduct in the future."
Stone & Magnanini LLP is a law firm specializing in complex litigation, which was founded by Stone and Robert A. Magnanini.
SOURCE Stone & Magnanini