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Ex-Attorney Saw Dollar Signs, Producer Says

•  Justice Stories     updated  2008/08/01 08:38

Emmy-winning producer Mark Burnett claims he paid his former attorney and agent, Conrad Riggs, the "staggering sum" of more than $25 million for his work on successful television projects, but that Riggs has greedily demanded more, in Superior Court.

Burnett, whose credits include "Survivor" and "The Apprentice," says Riggs has no basis for trying to squeeze more money out of him. Riggs and his company, Cloudbreak Entertainment, allegedly made 10 percent of the net profits from any show for which his services were required.

Further, Burnett claims that after reviewing some of the contracts Riggs worked on, he discovered that Riggs had been "scheming to appropriate an even larger share of Burnett's earnings."

Riggs allegedly negotiated and drafted several deals over the past decade that unduly benefited him at Burnett's expense, such as requiring television networks to pay Riggs producer fees on series for which he performed no producer services.

"(F)urther, Riggs knowingly and wrongly pocketed inflated royalty payments from Burnett's companies to which he was not entitled," the lawsuit states.

The producer claims Riggs seemingly went "AWOL" toward the end of 2006 and stopped performing most of his responsibilities, forcing Burnett on "damage control" to protect his projects.

Burnett says he tried to work it out with Riggs, as they were close friends, but that Riggs "saw an even larger opportunity to cash in at Burnett's expense when he learned that Burnett was in negotiations to sell a stake in his companies to investors."

Riggs allegedly claimed to be Burnett's partner and a co-owner in his companies, based on an oral agreement.

The plaintiff seeks a declaration that neither Riggs nor Cloudbreak has any interest in any of Burnett's companies. He also demands actual and punitive damages as a result of Riggs' alleged breaches of fiduciary duty.

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