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Lil’ Kim’s Attorney Accused|of ‘Intentionally Sloppy’ Work

(CN) - Rapper Lil' Kim sued her former attorney and his firm for $2 million, claiming he used "intentionally sloppy or grossly negligent legal work" to dupe her into transferring her branding rights to a company he formed.

Click here to read Courthouse News' Entertainment Law Digest.

In her lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court, Kimberly Denise Jones aka Lil' Kim says she hired Sunny (Sanny) Barkats and his firm, JS Barkats PLLC, last year to help her land a lucrative perfume endorsement.

Barkats allegedly told the rapper that he was "experienced in the celebrity branding business" and would "deliver multimillion-dollar deals" involving her brands Lil' Kim and Queen Bee.

Instead, Barkats tricked Lil' Kim into transferring her trademarks and brand names to International Rock Star Corp. -- a company he formed and was general counsel of, according to the lawsuit. IRS is also named as a defendant.

"Plaintiff believed this was acceptable since Barkats and [his firm] were supposedly acting as her legal counsel and advisor and because Barkats promised to bring in investors and perfume endorsement deals worth millions of dollars in revenues to plaintiff," the lawsuit states.

Barkats became a shareholder of the newly formed company and suggested that co-defendant Andrew Ro, his business associate, do the same, Lil' Kim claims.

The attorney drafted agreements "which inexplicably purported to give Barkats and Ro a combined 44 percent interest in IRS -- Barkats' own client -- at no cost to them," according to the lawsuit.

Lil' Kim claims they handled this "obvious conflict of interest" by getting her to sign a waiver. But the rapper says her "trust in Barkats was sorely misplaced."

The agreements purportedly granted exclusive rights to any perfumes she created to co-defendant KBY Properties Group, a company that shared the same address as Barkats's law firm, according to the complaint.

Barkats and his firm designed these contracts "to misappropriate plaintiff's valuable trademark and branding rights, while exacting potentially enormous, unjustified fees for themselves, all to plaintiff's ongoing detriment," the lawsuit states.

Lil' Kim says she never would have agreed to such a deal because she has existing endorsements in the music, fashion and high-end liquor industries.

She also blasts Barkats for what she calls his "intentionally sloppy or grossly negligent legal work," saying the agreements "are flawed in many respects and fall below the requisite level of competence required."

"For example, the shareholder agreement is lacking basic and necessary provisions regarding overall corporate governance, including but not limited to, how decisions are to be made among the shareholders, the transfer of shares by shareholders and investments made by third-parties into the corporation," the lawsuit states.

"Further, in most celebrity branding arrangements, it is custom and practice for the celebrity to merely 'license in' the brand rights for specific licensing purposes and not transfer any branding or trademark rights, whether in whole or in part, to an entity for the purposes of licensing arrangements."

Lil' Kim claims Barkats has refused to rescind the fraudulent agreements.

She demands more than $2 million -- including $1 million in punitive damages -- for alleged fraud in the inducement, legal malpractice, unjust enrichment and conversion. She also seeks a full accounting and a declaration that the contracts are void and unenforceable.

Her attorney for the lawsuit is Mitchell Schuster of Meister Seelig & Fein.

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