Michael Kassan Sues UTA Lawyer Bryan Freedman In $125M Defamation Suit


In all of the exorbitant fallout from Michael Kassan’s exit from UTA earlier this month even the lawyers are getting shrapnel now.

Following a Deadline article of March 25 in which the agency’s outside counsel Bryan Freeman called the ex-MediaLink CEO a “pathological liar,”  Kassan is now aiming his ire at the Hollywood heavyweight attorney to the tune of $125 million. If the sum sounds familiar, it’s because it is the exact amount that UTA bought strategic advisory firm MediaLink for in a handshake deal back in December 2021.

The jury trial seeking defamation suit (read it here) filed today in LA Superior Court cuts pretty fast to the chase, as you can see here:

Knowing that Kassan’s profession consists of providing important strategic advice to the largest companies in the world, on behalf of his clients, Freedman took aim at the heart of Kassan’s livelihood and profession and engaged in a sharp-shooting character assassination plan to further the scheme of trying to create a non-compete by defamation. Specifically, Freedman “proclaimed2” to a reporter at Deadline that Kassan compulsively and repeatedly lies because Kassan has the clinical  pathology of a mental disease – a “pathological liar.” This statement was made as if it was relaying a fact. This statement by Freedman was malicious and intentional. Stated another way, a non-compete by defamation. Freedman did not just say this to a few people, he said it to countless people via Deadline article so he could inflict maximum damage. Freedman is not just a sophisticated lawyer and knew what he was doing was illegal but has also been a party to litigation in the past and understands what this strategy could do to a person’s reputation. Freedman broke the law by defaming Kassan, and as an agent of his clients, so too did they. 

The harm Freedman’s false and malicious statements have caused cannot now be undone. Through this lawsuit, Kassan seeks, as best he can, to remedy Freedman’s and FTC’s wrongful, illegal, and defamatory conduct. 

No stranger to the slings and arrows of the town, Freedman was quick to respond.

“Facts are not defamation,” the lawyer said, a slight repetition of previous swipes at his client’s foe. “Michael Kassan’s continuous baseless filings and statements are nothing more than an attempt to create a false media narrative and divert attention from his fraudulent activities.”

Full disclosure, Freedman, as well as representing the likes of Gabrielle Union snd Megyn Kelly against NBC, and various Reality TV stars and others, has represented Deadline’s parent company PMC over the years. Further full disclosure, while Kassan’s defamation suit only references a “Deadline article,” “at least one person at Deadline,” and “a Deadline journalist,” the reporter is me.

In the March 25 piece, which was actually an update to earlier filings and finger pointing, the Freedman Taitelman + Cooley attorney said  “Michael Kassan is a pathological liar” after the controversial exec’s team unveiled a March 10 proposed term sheet, A term sheet that on the face appeared to indicate Kassan could stay on his UTA/MediaLink perch and pull in $3 million from the agency that was accusing him of theft and playing fast and loose with the corporate rules.

“The document he leaked was predicated entirely on him returning all the money he stole to UTA, giving up all of his day-to-day authority at MediaLink immediately, announcing right away that he would be leaving the company after Cannes and adhering to his post term obligations,” Freedman said earlier this week. “As part of this, UTA was willing to offer him an extremely reduced sum of money and the ability to save face and spare him and his family from public embarrassment. Once again, he has tried to change the truth to hide the reality of his criminal  behavior, and once again he has failed.”

Bryan Freedman

Let’s be clear, UTA or anyone else doesn’t hire Freedman not knowing he’s a savvy and sharp tongued operator. Let’s also be clear, Freedman has received legal pushback before, Earlier this month, attorneys for one time A3 boss Adam Bold filed a disqualification motion against Freedman. Citing conflict of interest in and around ex-A3 exec Brian Cho, Bold’s Parker Shaffie LLP team also said that Freedman has tried to “discredit our client” with statements that are “defamatory and patently false.”

Claiming slander and libel against Freedman and his firm, Kassan and his California-based team at Michelman & Robinson, LLP want at least $125 million out of the defendants in this case. Perhaps equally as important as the money, they also want a “preliminary and/or permanent injunctive relief prohibiting all Defendants, their employees, personnel, affiliates, and others acting in concert with them, from making the same or substantially similar defamatory statement.”  — A.K.A. Shut up Freedman and UTA.

“The complaint represents Michael Kassan’s intention to hold Mr. Freedman responsible for his strategically malicious and defamatory comment,” states Sanford Michelman in a statement after filing Thursday. “To render a statement such as he did, illustrates the fact that all Mr Freedman and UTA are doing are trying to block Mr. Kassan from competing by hurting him in the press as alleged in Mr. Kassan’s demand to arbitrate.”

This all kicked off publicly on March 12 when UTA partner Kassan filed have the breakdown of his relationship with the agency taken to arbitration, as designated by his contract. Hours later, and one or two press statements from both sides, UTA sued Kassan in open court with a complaint full details of the executive’s alleged financial and corporate misconduct.

While, two days after a threat of sanctions by Kassan’s lawyers, UTA eventually dropped most of the claims in its suit for an arbitration demand of their own, the heart of the battle remains unchanged.

Kassan insists that he can form a new and competing strategic advisory firm because he isn’t taking a $10 million severance. UTA say no way.

Behind all that is the competing realities of the circumstance. Kassan says he resigned on March 6, and made it clear the situation was at UTA was untenable due to accusations and MediaLnk interference by agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer UTA say he was fired on March 7 after months of investigation into so-called improprieties.

Either way if is clear this defamation suit is far from the last word in this case.



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