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Mar 30, 2004 - 01:15 PM

The Litiginator

by Jamie Court
Arnold's war on litigation -- which includes an effort to help his car dealer and insurance company donors gut the state's Unfair Business Competition Law -- preserves the kind of litigiousness he's threatened through the course of his career. A report in today's Los Angeles Times discusses threatening letters sent by Schwarzenegger's ravenous attorneys protecting his image. Arnold's people claim it's simply business, but a few years ago one of Schwarzenegger's fee-hungry attorneys threatened our public interest group with such arrogance and disrespect for judicial economy that his letter deserves recounting. (Letter available upon request from Carmen Balber at 310-392-0522 x324.) Here's what happened.

Zagat's 2003 survey calls the restaurant Schatzi on Main the "culinary brainchild" of founder/co-owner Arnold Schwarzenegger. But when our consumer group sued Schatzi to have the restaurant known as Schwarzenegger's terminate their junk faxing, the actor's attorney shot off an angry letter. It argued in 5 dense pages that we defamed Arnold because Schwarzenegger no longer owned the joint, so we couldn't be terminating the junk faxes at "Schwarzenegger's restaurant." But it's interesting. No one seems to have told the star gods, Zagat's, the media or even the people who run Schatzi's Web site. Schatzi's site features a flashing Arnold and a link to his gubernatorial Web site. But, nah, it's not really Schwarzenegger's restaurant.

Here's what Martin Singer, the Gov's bulldog litigator threatened after recounting all our liability and demanding a settlement -- showing the law is truly a toy for men with as much money as Arnold.

"It is well known that my client is no stranger to litigation to enforce his legal rights when he has been defamed. Mr. Schwarzenegger has successfully pursued legal claims to seek redress for defamation and false light invasion of privacy, the unauthorized exploitation of his commercial persona, and for criminal conduct directed against him. For example, you may be aware that my client successfully pressed criminal charges against two paparazzi who acted outrageously in their zealous pursuit of a story about him. And I presume that you are aware that my client successfully sued for defamation after the Globe tabloid published a false and defamatory article asserting that Mr. Schwarzenegger was in the midst of a "heart crisis" when in fact he was in excellent health...My client has also prevailed in litigation arising from defamatory and tortious conduct occurring in Europe. I hope that such litigation to protect my client's rights does not once again become necessary. Please govern yourself accordingly."

Here's the kicker: The contents of the letter were not supposed to be disclosed or we would be sued for breach of the Copyright Act -- yes, Singer claimed to Copyright the letter.

"This does not constitute a complete or exhaustive statement of all of my client's rights or claims. Nothing stated herein is intended as, nor should it be deemed to constitute a waiver or relinquishment, of any of my client's rights or remedies, whether legal or equitable, all of which are hereby expressly reserved. This letter is a confidential legal communication and is not for publication. Any publication, dissemination or broadcast of any portion of this letter will constitute a breach of such confidence and a violation of the Copyright Act, and you are not authorized to publish this letter in whole or part absent our express written authorization."

Arnold needs to have as much respect for the legal rights, remedies, and equitable relief of individuals and groups without as much money as he. And, yes, we collected from Schatzi, including a pledge never to junk fax again.

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