Saturday, June 21, 2008

No Fighting in the War Room!

Protracted trials are godsends to upscale hotels located close to courthouses, such as the Kyoto Grand (formerly the New Otani) and other hotels in downtown LA near the Stanley Mosk and Clara Foltz courthouses. Hotels advertise in magazines like LOS ANGELES LAWYER, and tout their benefits for attorneys, their clients and witnesses. One of the top perks is use of a "war room," a conference room outfitted with phones, workstations and secured Internet lines.

Unfortunately, some of the deals hotels have cut with litigation teams are making headlines -- in not-so-favorable ways.

The LA Times recently ran this story about the Westin Bonaventure's suit against Phil Spector. According to the article, the futuristic-looking hotel rented Spector, his legal team, and assorted well-wishers four luxury suites; gave the lawyers free workouts; and offered a secured "war room." The deal was that Spector was to pay in advance every two weeks, which seems like a smart financial move. Yet somehow Spector ran up a $110,000 tab, for which the chain is suing Spector. (The unanswered question is how this happened. Why did the hotel continue to let Spector stay there if he wasn't paying the bills in advance? Or was the tab is for additional expenses?)

Another litigation related hotel story recently emerged from Riverside, where Mattel and MGA toys are locked in a struggle in federal district court over the rights to the BRATZ dolls that are outselling Barbie. According to this LA Times story (and another in the LA Daily Journal that went into more depth), the MGA legal team signed a contract with the historic Mission Inn, within walking distance of Riverside's many courthouses, that provided Mattel's legal team would not be allowed to rent rooms there. The official explanation was concern over confidential materials being misdelivered and ending up in the wrong legal team's hands. Mattel's team asked the judge presiding over the trial to throw out the contract. The judge replied that the matter wasn't within his jurisdiction. Mattel's team then took up residence at the Riverside Marriott -- where they likely have a war room.

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