As it turns out, lawyer Michael Avenatti’s legal problems are becoming Stormy Daniels’ problems, too.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, an Orange County lawyer has asked a bankruptcy court to seize most of the $577,000 that was raised by Daniels during a kickstarter campaign to finance her lawsuit against President Trump. The lawyer, Jason Frank, is trying to collect on a $10 million judgment he won last month against Eagan Avenatti, the Newport Beach firm belonging to Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti. Daniels is famously suing Trump to be let go from a 2016 NDA she signed to not disclose details about an affair she purportedly had with the president a decade ago.
The debt to Frank was one of the biggest the firm promised to pay when it emerged early this year from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Frank worked at the firm between 2009 and 2016, and says it cheated him out of millions of dollars of pay. Frank won his judgment after the firm broke a promise to pay him nearly $5 million that was supposedly personally guaranteed by Avenatti.
Of course, Avenatti denies that the court has any standing to collect Daniels’ money. That’s because, he says, Daniels is represented by a totally different firm – called Avenatti & Associates. Apparently, the fact that he no longer works at Eagan Avenatti hasn’t stopped Avenatti from using an Eagan Avenatti email address or from copying Eagan Avenatti office manager Judy Regnier. Avenatti also used his title at the firm in his signature block, which also listed him as a partner at Eagan Avenatti.
Still, Avenatti insists they’re separate firms and that Daniels was never represented by Eagan Avenatti.
“A signature block means nothing,” Avenatti said by email, “and you have no evidence the firm ever represented Ms. Clifford.”
In an amusing twist, corporate papers filed with California’s secretary of state show that Avenatti & Associates, a firm wholly owned by Avenatti, lists its type of business simply as “Eagan Avenatti”. That’s probably because Avenatti & Associates owns 75% of Eagan Avenatti. San Francisco lawyer Michael Eagan owns the remainder of the firm.
Regardless of whether Daniels money will also be taken, the bankruptcy clerk last week directed the US Marshals Service to enforce Frank’s judgement, which could soon lead to Eagan Avenatti’s assets being seized.