- Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News/POOL
Curtis Jackson, also known as 50 Cent, has filed a lawsuit accusing a Wall Street law firm of giving him shoddy representation during a protracted legal battle over a deal to market headphones using the rapper’s brand.
The rapper claims the law firm did a terrible job representing him while he was dealing with the legal fallout from a failed venture with a company called Sleek Audio. Inspired by the success of Beats by Dre, 50 Cent began working with Sleek in 2010 to create his own brand of headphones called “Sleek by 50.”
Sleek missed its launch deadline and never ended up marketing the headphones, according to 50 Cent’s complaint. The rapper decided to form his own company, SMS Audio, to launch the headphones, and he claims his lawyers at GSB assured him he wouldn’t be infringing on intellectual property rights held by Sleek.
Despite GSB’s alleged assurances, Sleek filed an arbitration proceeding against 50 Cent, claiming he misappropriated its trade secrets while marketing his own headphones. The arbitrator ultimately awarded Sleek more than $11 million plus almost $5 million in attorney fees.
Fitty accuses the firm’s lawyers of failing to “employ the requisite knowledge and skill necessary to confront the circumstances of the case.”
The rapper’s complaint added:
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.
Craig Weiner, a partner at Robins Kaplan who’s representing 50 Cent in his bankruptcy proceedings, said the rapper only filed the lawsuit against GSB after it was determined a settlement couldn’t be reached.
“In connection with this legal representation, as set forth in the complaint, Mr. Jackson became saddled with liabilities exceeding $18 million, not including the millions he spent in legal fees,” Weiner said in a statement.
When he filed for bankruptcy in July, 50 Cent blamed his inability to pay his debts on expensive litigation, including the Sleek battle, as The Wall Street Journal noted at the time. Before his bankruptcy, 50 Cent also lost a high-stakes legal battle filed by a woman whose sex tape he published on the internet.
GSB sent us this statement in response to the 50 Cent lawsuit:
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.