American Apparel CEO, consensual masturbationist and constant controversialist Dov Charney may be besieged by bad publicity, but it takes one bad barrister named Fink to make him look good.
Serial Settlement Seeker,
Keith Fink, Esq.
Keith Fink has been plaguing a wealth of celebrities for years. In each case, the lawyer concocts lurid allegations that he leaks to the media to leverage settlements from his name-brand targets: He has sued Marilyn Manson (for using the band's money to purchase 'Nazi skeletons'); Brad Pitt's agent (for "conducting meetings in the nude,") and Ellen DeGeneres (for breaking a dog adoption agreement over which she later cried on national TV). In Dov Charney's case, he alleged that Dov wore a "cock sock," held meetings in the nude (clearly a recycled claim from a previous case) and supposedly told plaintiff Mary Nelson that she could "come over to his house, watch TV, have a drink, even masturbate and leave," and he would still have faith in her.
Fink has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Gawker, the New York Times and BusinessWeek. He has appeared on Dateline, MSNBC and The O'Reilly Factor, positioned as a legal advocate for victims. But last year, Keith Fink and his client Mary Nelson were sanctioned by a court in Los Angeles for concocting a fraudulent scheme to elevate Nelson's monetary damages claim against Charney.
In her sexual harassment lawsuit which Fink stated in emails would disappear for $2 million in cash, Nelson claimed that she was forced to take a low paying job after she was allegedly wrongfully terminated by American Apparel. In reality, Nelson and Fink instructed Nelson's new employer to divert a portion of her income into a corporation owned by Nelson so as to deflate her reported income (and thereby inflate her damages claim). These facts came to light when the lawyer for Nelson's new employer intervened and attempted to stop Fink and Nelson.
The Schmata King: Dov Charney
The trial court subsequently ruled that Nelson had, in fact, diverted portions of her income into her corporation and failed to disclose her full earnings to the court. As a result, the court sanctioned Nelson $7,500, and Keith Fink is currently under investigation by the California State Bar for his involvement in the scheme.
Finally, American Apparel's counsel confirms that, on the eve before the trial, Fink admitted that his case was "bogus" and that his client was unstable. Then, he offered American Apparel a win-win opportunity: a default judgment in an arbitration setting whereby his client would admit she was not sexually harassed, and a one-way confidentiality agreement.
The catch to Fink's cockamamie plan was for American Apparel to pay more than half of the 2.5 million dollars in fees he had racked up. Being that they were looking at a month in court and millions in legal fees, this was, at face value, a tantalizing offer.
So, what went wrong? (The only outlet doing any decent reporting on the matter is Jezebel)
Keith Fink suddenly refused to participate in the "confession arbitration" which was to be held in San Francisco. Perhaps he was concerned that it would become apparent that he had pursued a bogus case against American Apparel. On NBC, he said that it wasn't about the money. So, how could he solicit a confession from his client and be getting paid off at the same time? He didn't. Fink basically tried to get the money without the confession. And that is where the attorney may have committed a crime.
There is little doubt that Fink blackmailed American Apparel. If the company refused to fork over the cash he was going to "expose" the settlement agreement.
Keith Fink "I will blow this wide open" Email
When the court ruled in American Apparel's favor in the Mary Nelson case and found Fink to be in breach of the agreement, the vexatious litigator turned around and filed a wrongful termination suit on behalf of an employee fired for methamphetamine abuse days before the two year statute of limitations expired - ignoring the fact that the client had written and submitted a two page defense of Dov Charney that called the Mary Nelson lawsuit a "joke" and Fink, a "vulture."
He wrote: (see full document here)
"Success comes with a price, and for Mr. Charney, it is coming at a high price. Vultures circle him and when they see a chance to strike, they will do so. In my opinion, it is a make money easy scheme and it is one of the things that are wrong with America. Instead of looking at successful people and admiring them and trying to emulate the way success was achieved, that is by working hard, some people take the easy path by finding a lawyer willing to take a case on contingency, and sue for anything that might land them a settlement. It is definitely an easier way to make money than working hard for it. In my view, it should be considered as stealing, won't you agree? Find a successful person whose business is generates a lot of income, make the person a target for any lawsuit, find a lawyer that will take the case for contingency and if the case wins, you get easy money. You just stole that person's fruit of hard work and labor without even helping in attaining the success that he strove for. Is that fair? Of course not, but it happens in reality. All the vultures are suing those successful businesses in hopes of getting a piece of the revenue, without lifting a finger to help in its acquisition."
In the end, Fink is going to have to explain to a third party arbitrator why he was unwilling to settle his case as promised. Because Keith Fink may have committed extortion, attempted to acquire a PR consulting job from American Apparel in exchange for a settlement, concocted a scheme with his client to fabricate evidence and repeatedly kept the case in the media, he's looking at a damages suit potentially in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Not only that, but he is reportedly being investigated by the California State Bar.
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That middle email is absolutely staggering. Just staggering. It's wonderful to know that when you become successful or famous, people will hunt you down and try to steal your money. Actually, it's worse than that. People will try to ruin you. Nobody says anything, not even the media.
Wouldn't wish waking up as Keith Fink on anyone in the world.
Posted by: Joel at November 30, 2008 08:54 PM
It's about time people start putting the fire to evil lawyers like this.
Posted by: Guest at December 1, 2008 10:37 AM
is there anything that can happen to keith fink? he should be reprimanded for this. i'm not even sure what can legally be done though... he sounds like he's trying to be a big, bad lawyer, muscling people around. he knows how to exploit media outlets, that's for sure. considering he says he's bound by confidentiality, i sure have heard a lot about this case.
Posted by: maddie at December 1, 2008 12:12 PM
Is he serious?? What kind of lawyer sends an email that basically amounts to blackmail? Keith Fink is clearly off his rocker, and looks like he might be needing a lawyer of his own fairly soon.
"....it dawned on me that the more documentation filed with the court the more the media is going to crucify American Apparel which is not a great thing for me as I want them to stay in business to satisfy what I expect to be a big judgement (including statutory fees).....Ms. Nelson will settle this matter for 2,000,000 inclusive of atorneys fees and costs. We will agree to confidentiality including not speaking to anyone about the matter other than her tax atty and accountant...."
Posted by: Anonymous at December 1, 2008 10:09 PM
If I ever saw Keith Fink I'd stab him in the throat with the closet sharp object I could find and gleefully watch as he gurgled his last dying breath.
Posted by: Oden at December 19, 2008 09:00 AM
Fink does not file lawsuits he has public temper tantrums. I guess it is a matter of how his parents brought him up
Posted by: Anonymous at December 21, 2008 06:40 PM
you should read all his cases and inform yourself about the way american apparel really does business. dov charney is a sleazy throat cutter who just recently laid off 800 people at his factory to safe cash but a certain ms. brady who is very close to dov can talk on her cell phone and rack up a $7,800 bill or a ms. pellegrino who loves to spend her nights in the fancy schmancy hotel in paris, france to bill the german american apparel for $5,000 A NIGHT.
Posted by: Anonymous at December 24, 2008 03:35 AM
Hey look Keith Fink himself is commenting on articles about himself!
Posted by: Haha at December 30, 2008 01:47 PM
Wasn't Charney sued by Woody Allen for using pictures from one of his movies in advertisments without permission? Sounds like a brilliant man.
Posted by: Anonymous at December 31, 2008 11:07 AM
I don't know if you heard but a quote from your article appeared in the Daily Bruin (UCLA's student newspaper) this week. Very interesting.
You may have seen this site as well.
Posted by: Anonymous at January 10, 2009 05:11 PM
Has anyone bothered to inform this "Attorney" that binging and purging looks even worse on men???
Posted by: Tina at January 11, 2009 06:26 AM
OMG, and this Courtney Love's new lawyer? She's going to have $$$ nothing £££ left soon...
Posted by: anonny at September 7, 2009 04:12 AM