Johnny Depp is claiming he was swindled out of nearly $35 million by a top Hollywood lawyer and his firm.
In a new complaint filed Tuesday, the Pirates of the Caribbean star alleges Jacob A. Bloom — an attorney known for working with clients like Ron Howard, Nicolas Cage and Jackie Chan — and his law firm, Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal & LaViolette, committed “professional malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment,” ultimately costing the actor tens of millions of dollars.
“Johnny Depp’s lawsuit filed today reflects his continued stand against systemic, self-serving Hollywood practices that he hopes this lawsuit will expose and end,” Depp’s lawyer, Adam Waldman, tells PEOPLE.
According to the complaint, Depp hired Bloom and his firm to handle his legal affairs in 1999. “But instead of protecting Mr. Depp’s interests, [Bloom and his firm] engaged in misconduct for their own financial benefit and violated some of the most basic tenets of the attorney-client relationship.”
Specifically, Depp is claiming that Bloom “improperly and negligently collected over $30,000,000 in voidable contingent fees” from his variable income over the years without a legally binding contract under California law.
The complaint also claims that Bloom and his firm took out a “hard money loan” with a “double digit interest rate” from a lender with whom they also had a professional relationship with for Depp, and manipulated the terms of the loan for their own financial benefit, as well as for the benefit of Depp’s business managers at The Management Group (TMG), whom he is also suing.
“In light of the longstanding relationship between the Bloom Firm and Mr. Depp, the Firm is extremely disappointed that Mr. Depp has decided to file this lawsuit,” the firm said in a statement. “The Firm disagrees with Mr. Depp and his counsel on the law and the facts, and intends to defend the lawsuit vigorously.”
The complaint is just the latest in a bitter and complicated series of allegations made by the actor against his former business managers and attorneys, whom he claims mismanaged the $650 million he’s made in the last two decades to the point of depletion.
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Depp sued TMG in February for $25 million in a fraud lawsuit. TMG then filed a cross-complaint, claiming the actor lived an “ultra-extravagant lifestyle that often knowingly cost [him] in excess of $2 million per month to maintain, which he simply could not afford.”
A judge later ruled that Depp’s personal spending habits are not currently relevant in his ongoing legal battle. The case is ongoing.
Due to the terms of the loan, Depp in his new complaint claims he lost out on approximately $32,000,000 in residual payments from his films over a three-year period. He also claims he’s still on the hook for $5,000,000 on the loan, “which continues to capitalize substantial interest at unreasonable rates” and fees.
“This loan cost Mr. Depp millions of dollars in unreasonable interest, fees, and voidable contingent fees, and was imposed on Mr. Depp without any of the protections that should have been afforded to a client when dealing with his attorney,” the documents state.
In addition, Depp claims that Bloom “took hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional payments for reimbursement of alleged ‘expenses’ that were submitted” by the firm to TMG without explanation.
According to the documents, “A former TMG employee who was the day-to-day manager of Mr. Depp’s account at TMG testified that [Bloom] submitted requests for expense reimbursement, with little to no supporting backup, which TMG would then pay, without question, from Mr. Depp’s funds. [Bloom’s] expenses and requests for reimbursement were never sent to Mr. Depp for review and approval.”
Ultimately, Depp is accusing Bloom and TMG of employing a “fox guarding the hen house” strategy, “never disclosing to Mr. Depp either California’s protective legal requirements for written contingency contracts nor the huge fees TMG paid to itself and [Bloom] in violation of California law.”
Both the Department of Justice and the criminal division of the IRS have opened criminal investigations into TMG, and the SEC has opened a separate civil investigation into TMG, according to an August report in the Wall Street Journal. Criminal investigations are reportedly focused on fraud and money laundering.
Bloom and the firm, Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal & LaViolette, did not immediately respond to our request for comment.