Prominent attorney Marc Kasowitz has defeated a legal malpractice lawsuit filed by former Universal Music Group executive Charlie Walk, who claimed the lawyer gave him terrible legal advice when Walk was hit with multiple accusations of sexual harassment.
Walk, the former president of UMG’s Republic Records, claims that the attorney and his firm Kasowitz Benson Torres committed “catastrophic malpractice” by pressuring him to sign a “one-sided settlement” to exit the record label in 2018, but Justice Andrew Borrok dismissed those claims during a live hearing on Tuesday.
As first reported by Law360, Borrok called Walk’s accusations against Kasowitz a “false narrative” and “absolutely outrageous.” Walk had argued that his attorney ignored key arguments in his favor, but Justice Borrok cited emails and other evidence that the attorney had indeed raised those points.
In a press release on Tuesday evening, Kasowitz Benson confirmed that the case had been dismissed and praised the judge for doing so.
“Justice Borrok saw this lawsuit for what it is — outrageous and frivolous,” Kasowitz said. “Walk’s lawyers should be ashamed of themselves for bringing it. We are considering all of our options for holding them to account.”
In his own statement, an attorney for Walk vowed to appeal the ruling and said he was “confident the appellate court will give Charlie his day in court.”
“Charlie Walk has never been found to have engaged in any wrongdoing. There is not one text, one picture or anything else which could have been a legally sufficient reason for him to leave his job,” said Bryan Freedman of Freedman & Taitelman LLP. “He should have been given the chance to show that before and all he is asking for is the chance to show that now.”
Walk was accused of sexual misconduct by a former colleague in January 2018; the next month, four more women came forward in an article published by Rolling Stone. Walk has strongly denied all such allegations. That March, following an investigation, Walk and Republic “mutually agreed to part ways.”
The current battle started three years later, when Walk filed a lawsuit claiming that Kasowitz – who represented him during his exit from Republic – had “botched” the job. Rather than raising valid legal arguments that UMG would breach his employment contract by terminating him without sufficient evidence, Walk said his attorney had “passively cooperated” and left him “defenseless.”
Under the terms of the deal negotiated by Kasowitz, Walk agreed not to challenge his termination in return for a $1.7 million payout and several months of health insurance.
“Instead of a fighter for his client, Kasowitz turned out to be passive and uninformed about the true facts of Mr. Walk’s case, and quickly pressured him to enter into settlement agreement that was not in Mr. Walk’s best interest,” Walk wrote in his lawsuit.
Tuesday’s decision dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning permanently. The decision can be appealed to New York’s Appellate Division.