Court sides with firm's clients in case of first impression under state statute
July 17, 2015 – In a case of first impression under California’s Talent Scam Prevention Act, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John P. Farrell overruled the demurrer of defendants to the complaint of the firm’s clients for violation of the Act, rejecting in their entirety defendants’ untimeliness arguments. The firm’s clients are a young aspiring singer-songwriter and her supportive father. They say that over a two-and-a-half year period they paid over $1.7 million to an alleged former “Backstreet Boy,” Sam Licata (a/k/a Phoenix Stone), and his wife, Sybil Hall, together with their related business entities, some or all of which consisted of supposed “advance fees” for their representation of the young woman in her music career. (Such fees are unlawful under the Act, giving rise to damages starting at three times the amount of the fees.) In their demurrer, defendants contended that a one-year statute of limitations applied to the claim. Drawing on its research of the Act’s legislative history, the firm made the case that a three-year limitations period should apply. Judge Farrell agreed with the firm, overruling the demurrer and ordering defendants to answer the complaint. The Court also set a jury trial date of next May in the case.