Contract Law

Attorneys Wage Scorched-Earth Legal Battle Over $11K Share of 'Millionaire' Show Winnings

A hard-fought legal battle between two former friends who are both lawyers has resulted in an $11,376 award, multiple fines and legal ethics complaints and an ongoing appeal.

It all began with an email in which Kevin Hirsch offered to help 20 friends with an automated phone quiz that could help them win a spot as a contestant on the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? game show in 2009. In return, the email said, those who took him up on the offer would have to pay him a third of their winnings, the Detroit News reports.

Three of Hirsch’s friends appeared on the television show and one, fellow attorney Rebecca Kesler, won some money. But when Hirsch, who is now 38, sought his share of Kesler’s $50,000 winnings, she refused. He sued for breach of contract in 34th District Court in Romulus, Mich., eventually winning a $11,376 award, which Kesler, 39, is appealing.

At the trial level, the judge was not persuaded by Kesler’s arguments that she hadn’t seen the email payment provision and that Hirsch had agreed in a subsequent phone conversation to take the automated test for her for free, ruling that her position was “so incredible that no juror would accept it as true.”

Meanwhile, Kesler is also facing a legal ethics case brought by the Attorney Grievance Commission after she was sanctioned in the case for making a frivolous argument and misrepresenting a court ruling, the newspaper article recounts.

Even if Hirsch also prevails on appeal, however, further court battle appears likely in the scorched-earth case. Kesler, who transferred all her assets to her husband or his trust in 2005, says she has no money or possessions. She made the transfer, she said, because she is a sole practitioner without malpractice insurance.

Hirsch says he believes the transfer was made more recently, in order to avoid his judgment, and he vows to search until he finds her assets.

Hat tip: Associated Press

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