Judge Unseals Ex-Playboy Model’s Lawsuit Against Elliott Broidy
(Bloomberg) -- A lawsuit by a former Playboy model against a top Republican donor was unsealed by a judge, revealing new details about the $1.6 million hush payment she accepted to keep quiet about their affair and the pregnancy she terminated late last year.
A California state judge on Tuesday made Shera Bechard’s complaint against Elliott Broidy and others public, though parts remain redacted. She accuses Broidy of breaching their contract by stopping installment payments on the deal after details of their affair were leaked by others.
Bechard also sued her former lawyer, Keith Davidson, who arranged for the payment as part of a nondisclosure agreement negotiated on Broidy’s behalf by New York attorney Michael Cohen, who had been President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer. Bechard claims Davidson worked against her interests by secretly coordinating with Cohen and crafting an agreement that was favorable to Broidy.
“Despite his fiduciary and ethical duties to his client, Mr. Davidson treated Ms. Bechard’s claims as a commodity to be traded for his own financial gain,” according to the lawsuit in Los Angeles. The agreement allegedly called for 35 percent of the hush payment to go to Davidson.
Davidson recruited Cohen to approach Broidy with an offer to represent him and “solve” his issues with Bechard, according to the suit.
“Unknown to Ms. Bechard, Mr. Davidson and Mr. Cohen were well acquainted with one another, having worked together on projects including the hush money deal between porn star Stormy Daniels (represented by Mr. Davidson) and Donald Trump (represented by Mr. Cohen).”
Bechard is also seeking a court order forcing Davidson to disgorge $140,000 in fees he accepted for his work her her case.
Bechard, of Beverly Hills, says in the suit that she reached out to Davidson for legal help on Oct. 31, when she was seven weeks pregnant with Broidy’s child. She says Davidson interviewed her about her relationship, though a page and a half of details about what he learned from Bechard are redacted in the public complaint.
Davidson’s representation was so bad, Bechard claims, that the final deal included a term that prohibited her from having a copy of the agreement. She claims Davidson wouldn’t show her the final deal and lied to her about it.
“No reasonable lawyer would have recommended that Ms. Bechard sign the settlement agreement, and no properly informed client in her position would have agreed,” she said.
Paul Berra, Keith Davidson’s attorney, said Davidson never worked against Bechard’s interests.
“She was set to make over $1 million until Broidy stopped making the payments,” Berra said in an email. “Davidson got her a great deal. Whether Bechard was allowed to physically keep a copy of the agreement is a trivial matter which will be addressed in court.”
Broidy’s attorney has previously said that Broidy had every right to stop the payments because the information he sought to keep private became public.
A spokesman for Broidy didn’t have an immediate comment on the unsealing of the suit.
Davidson had also represented Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, when she reached a $130,000 agreement in 2016 to keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump. Clifford, now represented by California lawyer Michael Avenatti, has made similar claims about Davidson and Cohen working together against her interest.
Avenatti, who has sued Trump and Cohen on Clifford’s behalf to nullify her nondisclosure agreement, is also named as a defendant in Bechard’s suit. The former Playmate claims Avenatti interfered in her contract by making key details public in a tweet after he allegedly got the information from Davidson. Avenatti, she says, wanted credit “as the first source of public information” about the hush deal.
“Avenatti purportedly knew what Mr. Davidson knew, and knew that the settlement agreement was secret,” Bechard said. “Indeed, his tweet about it described the agreement as a ‘hush NDA.’”
Avenatti, who filed court papers asking for the complaint to be unsealed, on Tuesday called the claims against him “entirely false.”
“The complaint should have never been filed under seal in the first place,” he said in an email.
The case is Bechard v. Broidy, BC712913, Superior Court, State of California, County of Los Angeles.
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