Attlesey | Storm Successfully Assists Client With Securing Its Investment

Attlesey | Storm, LLP’s client, Collectors Universe, Inc., was sued by its former executive seeking over $30 million in damages.Bill Miller sued Collectors arguing his name was used without his consent on at least 50,000 certificates of authentication used to authenticate various collectibles.Miller alleged that (i) he was entitled, under California law, to statutorily prescribed damages of $750 for each alleged use of his name by Collectors without his consent and (ii) as a matter of law he was entitled to statutory damages of $750 for each of the 50,000 times his name was used without his consent thereby entitling him to $37.5 million in damages.

At trial, the jury determined Collectors had used Miller’s name on 14,060 certificates without his consent.In response, Miller argued that under California law he was entitled to $750 for each of the 14,060 certificate and thus should be awarded $10.5 million.The trial judge refused to make such an award and Miller appealed.

The California Appellate Court agreed with Collectors and ruled that even if Miller could prove that his name was used, without his consent, on all 14,060 certificates, such use would constitute, at most, a single violation of the statute in question and, therefore, Miller could recover no more than a total of $750 in statutory damages as opposed to the millions he sought.

Miller then petitioned the Appellate Court for a rehearing.Thereafter, the Court issued a second opinion in favor of Collectors with directions to Miller that he could elect to either have judgment entered for the $750 in statutory damages plus disgorged profits of $14,060 or have a new trial on the entire complaint.

Refusing to give up, Miller filed a petition with the California Supreme Court asking that Court to review and overturn the Appellate Court’s decision.The Supreme Court denied Miller’s petition.Miller eventually elected to accept the judgment of $14,810, but the case settled before judgment was entered.Read the Court’s opinion here.