Media Law

Bergeson, LLP attorneys have substantial experience in First Amendment and media law for both plaintiffs and defendants. Attorneys Rebecca Kaufman and Anthony Glassman are widely recognized for their experience in speech-related claims – including defamation, commercial disparagement, invasion of privacy, and misappropriation of name, likeness, and performance.

Bergeson, LLP also provides crisis management of complex and sensitive matters threatening personal and professional reputations.  To influence potentially damaging media reports, as well as avoid liability, the firm’s attorneys are often retained before stories are published or broadcast.

The firm’s attorneys have helped to preserve and restore the reputation of numerous individuals and corporations from harmful statements made in various fora, including traditional print (newspapers, magazines, fiction, and nonfiction), television, radio, motion pictures, and online, including the prosecution of anonymous postings. Representation ranges from pre-publication/broadcast interfacing with journalists and media counsel, retraction and take-down demands, settlement negotiations, litigation, jury trials, and appeals.

Unlike other media law firms, Bergeson, LLP’s attorneys possess the unique experience of both defending and prosecuting speech-related claims. Mr. Glassman has defended claims brought by celebrities such as Clint Eastwood, George Harrison, Charlize Theron, Tom Selleck, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kelly Le Brock. On the other side, Ms. Kaufman and Mr. Glassman have successfully represented clients against, or in pre-litigation negotiations with, virtually all the major media outlets, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Boston HeraldThe New York Post, Financial Times, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, HBO, Discovery, Reuters, Conde Nast (The New Yorker and Vanity Fair), Huffington Post, Politico, Daily Beast, Random House, Sony, Meredith Corporation (People), Vox Media (New York Magazine and Eater), and American Media (The National EnquirerStar, and Radar OnLine).

Together, Mr. Glassman and Ms. Kaufman have decades of experience as media lawyers dealing with what is now known as “fake news,” long before the 24-hour news cycle.

Former and current clients include (some clients on whose behalf we successfully settled claims are not listed in accordance with confidentiality provisions between the parties):

  • Allergan Pharmaceutical International
  • Archer School for Girls
  • Blavatnik, Len
  • Boal, Mark
  • Cage, Nicholas
  • Cohen, Brad and Cohen Asset Management
  • Crenshaw Christian Center
  • DynCorp International
  • Feed the Children
  • Global Holdings, Inc.
  • Globe International
  • Goodman, Oscar
  • Howard, Dwight
  • JM Manufacturing
  • Laliberte, Guy
  • Medley, Bill
  • Milan, Cesar
  • Newton, Wayne
  • Prime Healthcare Services
  • Relativity Media
  • Rockstar Games
  • Shugart, Al
  • Simon, Bui
  • Skechers USA, Inc.
  • Slim, Carlos
  • Soon-Shoing, Dr. Patrick
  • Warnes, Jennifer

Representative plaintiff matters:

Cohen, et al v. Hansen, et al, 2:12-CV-01401 JCM (PAL) (D. Nev. 2016)

Ms. Kaufman and Mr. Glassman served as co-counsel for a defamation action in federal court in Las Vegas in which an eight-member jury unanimously awarded $38.3 million in damages to the firm’s client, Los Angeles businessman Bradley S. Cohen and his company, for Internet defamation and false light invasion of privacy. The jury awarded $35.3 million in actual damages and $3 million in punitive damages against the defendants – Northwest Territorial Mint LLC, its president and an employee – who posted a website falsely comparing Mr. Cohen and Cohen Asset Management, Inc. to the notorious Bernie Madoff, who is serving 150 years in prison for a fraudulent Ponzi scheme. The defendants are former tenants of an office building owned by an affiliate of Cohen’s company, and their defamation was viewed as retaliation for lawsuits filed by the landlord for environmental contamination and other breaches of the lease agreement.

Price v. Stossel, 620 F.3d 992 (9th Cir. 2010)

Ms. Kaufman and Mr. Glassman represented Dr. Frederick Price, Minister of the Crenshaw Christian Center, in connection with an ABC 20/20 broadcast concerning well-known televangelists. The federal district court originally dismissed Dr. Price’s complaint pursuant to the California anti-SLAPP statute, but Dr. Price appealed and the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of Dr. Price’s claims. The parties conducted discovery and, four years after ABC aired the false and defamatory statements about Dr. Price, ABC issued an unprecedented formal apology to Dr. Price. ABC admitted in writing that the clip of Dr. Price was taken out of context, that ABC should have reviewed the sermon from which the clip was taken before ABC aired the false clip, and that ABC’s actions fell short of its own journalistic standards.

DynCorp International

Working with Mike Sitrick of Sitrick & Co. on behalf of DynCorp, the firm persuaded one of the largest networks not to run an already completed segment depicting DynCorp in a false light. The story threatened a major business transaction for the client, which was successfully completed because the story was not broadcast.

Allergan v. Nightengale Press

Represented pharmaceutical giant Allergan, makers of Botox, in a defamation, product disparagement claim in connection with the book Dying to be Young – From Botox to Botulism. Defendant agreed to cease publication of the book, substitute a new title deleting reference to “Botox” and edited out all references to Botox.

JM International v. Phillips & Cohen

Represented the USA’s largest  PVC pipe manufacturer in connection with claim in press release that a jury had found its pipe to be “substandard” and “shoddy”.   The Los Angeles Superior Court found the jury had not made such findings which allowed company to issue statement to customers that the original press release was found to be false and misleading.

Skechers USA, Inc.

Represented shoe manufacturer Skechers in connection with threatened network report that Skechers rocker bottom shoes had failed media supervised performance. Network declined to run report upon receipt of letter outlining deficiencies in network test.

Oscar Goodman v. Farrar, Straus & Giroux and James McManus

Successfully represented Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman in connection with defamation claim arising out of the publication of The New York Times bestseller Positively Fifth Street. The publisher and author agreed to delete a false and defamatory passage which made reference to the Mayor from all future editions of the book, formally apologize to Mayor Goodman, and authorize publication of their apology in a full page ad in The New York Times Book Review.

Leonard M. Ross v. Santa Barbara News Press and The New York Times, 2003 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 9227

Jury returned verdict of $7.5 million. New trial granted by Judge Harvey Schneider and affirmed on appeal. Retrial successfully prosecuted in March 2001, resulting in a $2.25 million jury verdict in a libel action (later upheld by the United States Supreme Court) against the Santa Barbara News Press, its owner The New York Times, reporter Kathleen Sharp and editor David McCumber on behalf of attorney/businessman Leonard M. Ross in connection with a front-page profile story that jury found falsely implied Ross was investigated by several government agencies for the investor frauds which sent a former partner to prison. At the time of publication Mr. Ross was the largest shareholder of Santa Barbara Savings and Loan (the largest financial institution in Santa Barbara County with 44 branches) and was seeking regulatory approval to increase his stake in Santa Barbara Savings and Loan to 24.9%.

Barry Tarlow v. Doubleday

Represented nationally prominent criminal defense attorney Barry Tarlow in defamation action against Doubleday in connection with false charges made in author James Mills’ book The Underground Empire that Mr. Tarlow had engaged in the criminal conduct perpetrated by his client.

Al Shugart v. Consumer Attorneys of California, Consumers and Their Attorneys Against Propositions 200, 201 and 202, and Morris & Carrick

With Daniel Bergeson, successfully represented Al Shugart, founder, President and CEO of Seagate Technology, a Fortune 500 company and the largest disc drive manufacturer in the world, in connection with defamation claim for T.V. ad seen by 14,000,000 people in California during March 1996 campaign regarding Propositions 200, 201 and 202. Ad “morphed” Shugart’s picture into Charles Keating’s and vice versa and ended with admonition to “stop the next Charles Keating.” Ad was produced by Bill Carrick who ran President Clinton’s 1996 California campaign. Defendant Consumer Attorneys of California agreed to pay $150,000 for publication of an apology which was published in Wall Street Journal and other leading California newspapers and $350,000 in charitable contributions as designated by Mr. Shugart.

Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes v. Sandals Resorts International, Ltd.

Successfully represented Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes in connection with claim that Sandals Resorts (operators of 10 Caribbean luxury hotels) misappropriated Medley and Warnes Academy Award and Grammy winning performance of (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life featured in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing for use in a nationally broadcast television commercial for the Sandals Resorts. The case settled after the trial court granted plaintiffs’ motion for pre-trial disclosure of Sandals’ net worth information based on the court’s finding that plaintiffs were likely to prevail on their claim and to recover punitive damages.

Robby Robinson v. MetRx

Successfully represented former Mr. Universe, Mr. America and Mr. World in connection with claim of misappropriation of image in national ads for nutritional supplement MetRx.

Representative defendant matters:

Ankam, et al. v. Reddy, et al.

Obtained summary judgment on behalf of defendant Prem Reddy, M.D. against claim that he defamed plaintiffs on the internet.

Mark Fuhrman v. The New Yorker and Robert Shapiro

Successfully represented O.J. Simpson counsel, Robert L. Shapiro, in connection with defamation, invasion of privacy, misappropriation claims brought by L.A.P.D. Detective Mark Fuhrman regarding article published in The New Yorker.

Pauline Kiernan v. Globe International, Inc.

Successfully defended Globe before a Los Angeles Superior Court jury against libel charges brought by nurse/companion of actor Glen Ford in connection with story that Kiernan claimed suggested improper personal relationship with Ford.

Burt Ward v. Globe (News Group Int’l, Inc)., 733 F.Supp. 83 (C.D. Cal. 1990)

Successfully defended Globe against libel charges brought by actor Burt Ward (“Robin” on “Batman” television series) in U.S. District Court, which found Globe’s story was a neutral, accurate and, therefore, privileged report and granted summary judgment.

Khawar v. Globe International, 19 Cal. 4th 254 (1998)
Represented Globe in the California Supreme Court regarding a story that Khawar, and not Sirhan Sirhan, assassinated Robert F. Kennedy.

Reported decisions:

Cohen v. Hansen, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178444 (D. Nev. Dec. 19, 2014)

Price v. Stossel, 620 F.3d 922 (9th Cir. 2010)

U.S. v. Omega Chemical Corporation, 156 F.3d 994 (9th Cir. 1998)

Khawar v. Globe International,19 Cal. 4th 254 (1998)

Ward v. News Group Int’l, 733 F.Supp. 83 (C.D. Cal. 1990)

Koch v. Goldway, 817 F.2d 507 (9th Cir. 1987)

Selleck v. Globe International, 166 Cal.App.3d 1123 (1985)