Pearlman told to pay ex-lawyers $15 million
By Richard Burnett | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted October 2, 2004
Boy-band impresario Lou Pearlman was slapped with a $15 million judgment Friday, capping off a lawsuit by two of his former lawyers who claimed the Orlando-based entertainment figure failed to pay them for past work.
Orlando lawyers J. Cheney Mason and William Pringle sued Pearlman and his Trans Continental Records company last year, alleging he violated terms of their compensation deal for litigation they handled in the late 1990s.
Mason and Pringle represented Pearlman in his bitter court fights and contract disputes with boy bands Back Street Boys and N'Sync. Settlements were reached in those cases, allowing the parties to share subsequent revenues generated by the bands.
But Pearlman's former lawyers said he and Trans Continental failed to make good on paying the agreed-upon fees based on those revenues. The state Circuit Court in Orlando agreed, ruling in favor of Mason and Pringle.
Afterwards, however, an upbeat Pearlman said he was confident the judgment would be overturned on appeal. He characterized the conflict with his former lawyers as a "good news, bad news" situation.
"First of all, I have to say that Cheney did a very nice job to help me get a lot of money out of those cases where he represented me," Pearlman said. "But the contingency fee that he wanted I felt was excessive. So we went to court on it. And the first round is his. Eventually, I believe the appeal will prove that he was overreaching with his fee."
Pearlman said the boy band settlements have netted him in excess of $55 million, based on record and performance royalties and other revenues. The latest judgment was derived from a percentage of those revenues.
Mason and Pringle could not be reached for comment.
Mason is a prominent criminal defense lawyer and former president of Florida's defense attorney association. He has handled many high profile cases through the years, the most recent involving Wilton Dedge, the Brevard County man who was released from prison in August after DNA testing exonerated him in a 1981 rape case. Pringle is a long-time corporate lawyer in Central Florida.