LAS VEGAS — Adult industry attorney Marc Randazza, through a publicist, today said he will challenge an interim arbitration award of $600,000 granted to his former employer, gay adult studio Corbin Fisher.
The award stems from Randazza’s departure from the Las Vegas-based studio in August 2012, where he was employed as its in-house general counsel for three years.
After he left Corbin Fisher, Randazza alleged constructive discharge and retaliatory termination in a claim that went straight to an arbitrator as part of his employment agreement with the studio. Randazza, who initiated litigation, said that he is owed for his final wages and business expenses.
The attorney, who later founded his own law practice in Las Vegas, said that he involuntarily ended his employment at Corbin Fisher after company execs became distant and out of communication with him, along with a complaint that he was “upset, betrayed, offended and stressed” over activities going on in the office that created alleged sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.
Those activities, according to the arbitrator’s decision that was widely disseminated just recently through the adult entertainment B2B community, included testimony by Randazza that his office at the studio was used for a porn shoot and that he was upset after he drove two studio officials in the backseat of his car while they proceeded to give blow jobs to each other.
Judge Stephen Haberfeld, the arbitrator, however determined that, contrary to Randazza’s central contention in arbitration, the termination of his employment had nothing to do with a sexually charged work environment.
The arbitrator determined in an interim arbitration award handed down in early June that Randazza had violated his fiduciary duties owed to the studio as its attorney and employee.
Haberfeld also said that Randazza committed numerous ethical violations, breached his employment contract, held on to client funds in his trust account and caused it hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages over the course of his employment with Corbin Fisher. However, the arbitrator found that no actual harm came to Corbin Fisher.
One of the violations Haberfeld noted included an attempt to take a $75,000 bribe from an opposing party in the Oron copyright infringement litigation brought on by Corbin Fisher.
The arbitrator said that Randazza had “secretly negotiated a $75,000 bribe to conflict himself out from suing Oron in the future.”
Haberfeld in his ruling also said that Randazza was liable for spoliation of evidence relative to a wiped-clean laptop computer and representing clients that were adversaries to the studio, including the blue-chip porn brands XVideos, XNXX, Titan Media and Bang Bros. However, none of those companies were ever adverse to the studio.
After two-and-a-half years of alternative dispute resolution involving tens of thousands of documents and pieces of evidence and many dozens of hours of deposition and cross examination, Haberfeld made his interim arbitration award finding — one that is intended to assist the process toward the achievement of a final award.
In response to the lawsuit and a press release distributed to the adult entertainment community by Corbin Fisher last week, Randazza’s publicist, who submitted a press release on behalf of the attorney, noted that Haberfeld’s award is not a “final result.”
“Mr. Randazza has now started the process of challenging the interim findings, and while matters of this sort do tend to become ‘ugly’ along the way toward their final resolution, we are confident that the final result of these proceedings will show that he acted properly throughout this ordeal,” Randazza’s publicist said.
“We have not made any public statements prior to this point concerning the arbitrator, opposing counsel, the other parties to this action, or the process itself. We understand the importance of allowing the matter to be completed prior to commenting. However, now that the opposition has taken the affirmative steps to publish press releases and other premature conjecture, we feel an obligation to respond publicly to their inaccurate attempts to create a fictional sense of finality where none exists.”
According to the release, Randazza’s camp noted that accusations by his former employer went so far as to suggest that bar discipline could be imposed.
“Thus far, they sent complaints to all five bar associations where Marc is admitted — and all were dismissed without action,” the publicist said. “In Florida, they appealed the dismissal, and that was also dismissed. Nevertheless, to expedite that part of the process and demonstrate that all actions taken were ethical, Randazza has voluntarily submitted the full facts of the complaint and the interim findings to the bar oversight agencies of Massachusetts, California, Florida and Nevada.
“Each of these jurisdictions previously reviewed the matter and opted not to pursue it. We trust that each state where Mr. Randazza is licensed also understands the crucial differences between an ‘interim finding’ and a final, enforceable, judgment.”
Randazza’s camp further said that it would refrain from commenting on matters surrounding the award publicly until the case is resolved.
“Right now, it appears that the opposition is more interested in a media campaign than in reaching a just result, even though a court may overturn interim findings,” the publicist said.
Brian Dunlap, Corbin Fisher’s vice president of business development, however said that the studio did not go public until the award was issued and the determinations were made.
“He’s demonstrated no remorse or intent to make us whole for the damage he caused us,” Dunlap told XBIZ. “So, yes, we’ve gone public because we feel he’s left us with little recourse now but to do what we can to ensure he is unable to harm other clients as he’s harmed us or continue to use his law license to abuse clients and profit at their expense.
“This has been a long but thorough process and only now is anyone hearing statements from us on it.”
Dunlap said a key finding in the arbitration hearing was that Randazza allegedly had violated Corbin Fisher’s settlement agreement with Oron by providing Falcon and Raging Stallion' s parent company, DataTech Enterprises, with information he gained from a hacker.
“Randazza assisted Datatech in their suit against Oron — but that assistance was a violation of our settlement agreement with Oron,” he said. “Half of our original settlement with Oron had to go back to them, to settle their claims over Randazza’s having violated the settlement agreement.”
Randazza’s other misconduct, including allegations that he worked for other clients while employed at the studio and the alleged Oron bribe, was painful for Corbin Fisher’s management to comprehend, Dunlap noted.
“It is difficult to imagine a feeling of being violated greater than what comes with violation by an attorney — they’re entrusted with significant powers, and we give them a great deal of credit, credence, and trust because we assume they’re held to a higher standard than a layman,” Dunlap said.
“When that attorney seems charismatic and affable, it’s all the more reason to feel we can place trust in them. At the very foundation of the arbitration award, though, was a situation in which a friend and trusted counsel was found to have been violating his duties to, and the rights of, his clients in very serious ways.”
Dunlap noted that, once Haberfeld filed the interim arbitration award amounting to $600,000, Randazza approached the studio to offer a settlement — one that the studio rejected.
A motion to confirm the arbitration award will be conducted in Clark County, Nev., District Court on July 23.