Legal Ethics

'Greedy' Stanford Law Grad to Pay $630K in Legal Fees Over Meritless Art Suit

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An art dealer who graduated from Stanford Law School reportedly tried to bully a well-known art auction house into paying $168,000 to settle a baseless lawsuit.

But now the tables have been turned on art dealer and Washington, D.C., attorney Robert Fastov, reports the Blog of Legal Times. His effort to collect from Christie’s International and related defendants for refusing to sell a painting is now going to wind up costing him a significantly higher sum.

Upholding sanctions awarded by a trial court, the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals today agreed that Fastov must pay $630,000 in legal fees racked up by Christie’s to defend Fastov’s bad-faith litigation, which was both filed without adequate basis and pursued in a vexatious and unreasonable manner. A copy of the unpublished opinion (PDF) is provided by the BLT.

The law blog also provides a link to the April 2008 written opinion (PDF) that the D.C. Circuit upheld. In it, the district court upholds a magistrate judge’s sanctions call, saying:

“Here, there is no public wrong to be righted, no class of victims seeking redress, no constitutional liberty being vindicated. Instead, a greedy individual, with the advantage of a legal education and a claimed litigation expertise, has initiated and maintained this lawsuit, which anyone with a modicum of common sense would have soon realized was without merit. Nevertheless, with myopic vengeance, Fastov has pursued the defendants, using and abusing them and the judicial process.”

Fastov, who represented himself pro se in the case, declined to comment, the law blog reports.

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