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September 11, 2018

Shera Bechard Lawsuit Against Michael Avenatti Partially Tossed

In July, former Playboy magazine centerfold model Shera Bechard sued Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, naming him as a defendant in a lawsuit over a “hush” deal she signed with a top Donald Trump fundraiser, Elliot Broidy. Bechard, the November 2010 Playboy Playmate of the Month, agreed to take a $1.6 million payout from Broidy to keep quiet over an affair between the two—an affair she says resulted in her pregnancy and subsequent abortion. On Friday, a judge in Los Angeles threw out two of the three claims Bechard made against Avenatti, but will allow a third claim to proceed, meaning that the Playboy Playmate’s suit against Avenatti—who represents AVN Hall of Famer Daniels in her own lawsuit against Trump—will continue. Early in July, Broidy ceased making scheduled payments toward the $1.6 million total, claiming that Bechard had violated the agreement. Bechard and her lawyer, Peter Stris, quickly sued Broidy—and Avenatti.  Why would Bechard sue Avenatti? Because, she and her attorney claim, Avenatti was told about the NDA between Bechard and Broidy by Bechard’s former lawyer, Keith Davidson. Avenatti then went public, posting a message on Twitter about the “hush” deal. Avenatti posted the Twitter message because Trump’s “fixer” Michael Cohen negotiated the $1.6 million NDA between Broidy and Davidson. Cohen also arranged the $130,000 payment to Avenatti’s client, AVN Hall of Famer Stormy Daniels, who was at that time also represented by Davidson, as AVN.com has reported. Avenatti claimed that Bechard's accusations against him were covered by California’s anti-SLAAP laws, and the judge agreed with him on two of his claims, but not a third. SLAAP stands for “Strategic lawsuit against public participation,” and refers to lawsuits designed to censor suppress free speech rights with the threat of financially burdensome legal actions. According to the judge’s order, the April 13 “tweet is evidence that Avenatti was certain or substantially certain that a breach or disruption of the confidentiality provision Settlement Agreement would occur in a manner which caused (Bechard) damage.” But the judge also ruled that “Avenatti did not engage in any conduct which is independently wrongful. ... His receipt of the information regarding the Settlement Agreement was not independently wrongful. Also, Avenatti's tweet was not independently wrongful, as it was not defamatory (i.e., it involved true facts) and he was not personally bound by the NDA.” Avenatti took to his Twitter account to claim victory on Friday, noting that the judge said that he could seek to recover his attorney’s fees from Stris and Bechard. “This morning, the court threw out 2 of the 3 bogus claims filed against me by Ms. Bechard and @PeterStris,” Avenatti wrote. “The Court also denied their request for attorney's fees and invited me to seek my fees. Stris and his client will ultimately be paying me when this charade is over.” Photos via Wikimedia Commons; MSNBC screen capture

 
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