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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
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‘Mickey’ Singer Loses Suit Against Former Counsel

(CN) - One-time pop star Toni Basil is too late to sue her attorneys for malpractice, a New York appeals court ruled.

Best known for her 1982 hit "Mickey," the California-based singer retained Gibbons Del Deo attorney Oren Warshavsky in New York to seek compensation for the alleged unauthorized use of her song in a commercial for the Subway sandwich restaurant.

Though the parties dispute what transpired, the record shows that Basilotta rejected a $35,000 settlement offer at some point.

About a year after Warshavsky left Gibbons in late 2006, the firm reorganized in New Jersey as Gibbons PC. In November 2007, the firm sent a letter to another of Basilotta's attorneys that stated they were no longer representing her or prosecuting her underlying actions.

In 2009, Basilotta sued Warshavsky and Gibbons for legal malpractice.

The lawyers claimed that Basil exceeded the statute of limitations to sue, but the Manhattan Supreme Court disagreed in August 2011.

Warshavsky fared better in the Appellate Division's first department appellate, which dismissed the case last week.

"This legal malpractice accrued in California at the latest in November 2007, when plaintiff received defendants' letter unequivocally informing her that they were no longer representing her or prosecuting her underlying actions," the unsigned order states.

"Accordingly, under California's applicable one-year statute of limitations, this action, commenced in February 2010, is time-barred."

The justices rejected Basilotta's attempt to tie the case to her 2009 discovery that the UK-based recording studio Radialchoice had been involuntarily liquidated.

"Plaintiff's alleged discovery is simply an additional facet of the same nonfeasance of which, according to her complaint, she had been aware of since November 2007; thus it does not constitute a separate wrongful act or omission for statute of limitations purposes," the three-page order states.

In addition to her work as a singer, dancer and choreographer, Basil, 68, also appeared in classic 1970s films "Easy Rider" and "Five Easy Pieces."

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