MANHATTAN (CN) - Stephen King's longtime attorney claims in court that the Arthur B. Greene Literary Agency tortiously interfered with his contract with the master of horror, whose annual earnings are believed to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
Jay D. Kramer sued Arthur B. Greene, Susan Greene and the Arthur B. Greene Literary Agency, in New York County Supreme Court.
Stephen King is not a party to the case.
The Internet Movie Database website estimates that King's stories and movies were netting him $40 million a year as early as 1999. King continues to be a prolific writer.
Arthur Greene is an attorney and accountant, with clients in the entertainment industry, including King, Kramer says in the complaint. Kramer says he has known Greene since the 1970s, and that Greene, who is in his 80s, is about 15 years older than Kramer.
Before Greene's wife, Susan, met Greene, "she had no experience in the entertainment industry, and she is not licenses to practice as either an accountant or an attorney," the complaint states. "In recent years, as Mr. Greene's cognitive skills have declined, she has from time to time assisted her husband with respect to the affairs of King."
Kramer claims the Greene's literary agency is "a recently formed corporation purporting to be a literary agency, comprising of Arthur and Susan Greene."
As King's agent and accountant, Arthur Greene was paid 5 percent for his accounting services, and he and his literary agency were paid up to 10 percent when Arthur Greene was sole agent for King's literary properties, the complaint states.
"The expenses of legal representation with virtually all of King's transactional matters affecting his literary properties were paid from the aforesaid commissions," the complaint states. "King did not pay legal fees in any other way for his transaction work in the entertainment industry."
Kramer claims King hired him in 1978, to represent the writer "in a variety of important and lucrative matters." Among them was assisting Arthur Greene in drafting, researching and reviewing agreements, Kramer says.
Kramer claims he "worked for King primarily through Arthur Greene" for the first 10 years of their relationship. "As the matter for King became more complicated, however, and were beyond Arthur Greene's skills, Mr. Kramer began to operate more directly, and it gradually became known to third parties that Mr. Kramer was Mr. King's attorney."
The complaint adds: "Mr. Kramer's compensation was tied directly to the success of King's endeavors, so that he would receive payment, generally over a period of time, as a percentage of King's earnings from the commissions paid and received no payment when King's prospective deals did not come to fruition. "On numerous occasions, Mr. Kramer received no compensation notwithstanding months or even years of work, because a project did not work out.
"Mr. Kramer received these commissions through defendants, to whom King paid commissions. Mr. Kramer was summarily terminated when defendants, motivated by resentment toward Mr. Kramer, greed and alarmed by their own decreasing role in King's activities and their diminishing share of King's commissions, induced and caused King to terminate his relationship with Mr. Kramer. Although Mr. Kramer was still due commissions for his past work, and was due to receive commissions on work recently completed, defendants instead retained the commissions that were owed to Mr. Kramer and converted the funds to their own use.
"When Mr. Kramer protested, defendants even sought to hold hostage the commissions owed to Mr. Kramer in an effort to get him to forgo his rights to full compensation and to shield their tortious activity from liability. Mr. Kramer promptly and appropriately rejected this misconduct. Accordingly, Mr. Kramer brings this action to recover the amounts owed to him and to remedy the misconduct of defendants in interfering with his representation of King."
Kramer claims he was sacked after a "secret meeting" between King and the Greenes on March 20 this year.
Kramer wants the defendants to pay him at least $1 million in punitive damages for breach of contract, tortious interference, unjust enrichment and conversion.
He is represented by David Schreier with Schreier & Wachsman.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.