From today’s Publisher’s Lunch, this odd lawsuit news (I mean, the news isn’t odd but the lawsuit is). I’m intrigued because the plaintiff is now a writer, as you’ll see, and he’s trying to blame his original lawyer for the federal criminal investigation he, the writer, is now undergoing for publishing his memoir without apparently getting mandated clearance from the Department of Defense. Here’s the Daily News story.
Wow, there’s a lot of stuff going in in Matt Bissonnette’s life. Or, rather, Former Seal Matt Bissonnette’s. Life, that is.
Why, I must ask (yeah, I’m a snotty New Yorker), did he retain a lawyer from the deep red state of Indiana? I mean, you’re going to write what you hope will be a sensational and provocative book, you find a lawyer from either Washington, D.C. or the publishing capital of the universe, New York. (He found a New York agent named Elyse Cheney, not apparently one of those Cheneys, and from her web site she’s a really top literary agent: she repped Valerie Plame’s “Fair Game.”)
But Indiana? (Or am I just still hung over from the poisonous red tide election?)
He does sound like he’s got a mess on his hands, doesn’t he? But it isn’t quite clear who made that mess.
Less than a week after reports emerged that former Navy SEAL and author of NO EASY DAY (and the forthcoming NO HERO) Matt Bissonnette was under criminal investigation by the federal government, he has taken steps against his former attorneys, filing a lawsuit for malpractice in a Manhattan federal court on Wednesday.
According to the AP (the full complaint is not yet available online), filing suit under his pseudonym Mark Owen, Bissonnette alleges that Kevin Podlaski at Carson Boxberger in Fort Wayne, Indiana, “gave him bad advice that tarnished his reputation, cost him his security clearance and caused him to surrender much of the book’s income to the government.”Bissonnette claims his recent negotiated settlement with the federal government has cost him at least $4.5 million so far, and indicates he will surrender “the majority of all income he has received from the book along with future income,” including “all movie rights and income attributable to those rights, an amount believed to be in excess of $900,000.”In the suit he asserts that he was referred to Podlaski, a former Judge Advocate General and special operations attorney who moved to Beers Mallers Backs & Salin as a partner in May 2014, by both his agent Elyse Cheney and his publisher Penguin. But a spokesperson for the publisher told us that Dutton, the imprint that published NO EASY DAY, did not refer Bissonnette to Podlaski. Bissonnette sought additional legal advice “to insure he complied with all his obligations of confidentiality”; Podlaski’s role was to review the manuscript for NO EASY DAY and ensure no “forbidden topics” would be mentioned, the suit says.Bissonnette seeks unspecified compensatory damages, saying his losses “will amount to at least $8 million after he agreed to surrender most of the book’s proceeds” and that “he also will lose consulting jobs, speaking engagements and future employment.” The ensuing controversy and ongoing investigation has, in Bissonnette’s view, “tarnished his reputation and exemplary military record” by the “false accusation that he sought to profit from disclosing military secrets and had cost him his security clearance for not submitting the book for review.”