Reversing an earlier decision, a judge Thursday reinstated a $107 million judgment against Marion “Suge” Knight and Death Row Records which was awarded back in 2005.
Over the objection Lydia Harris, the woman who obtained the original judgment and later agreed with Knight that it should be voided, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Sotelo said the plaintiff no longer has standing because she settled her interest in 2013 when Knight declared bankruptcy.
“Her sole argument for the set-aside was that the judgment belonged to the bankruptcy estate,” Sotelo wrote.
Harris maintained she and her husband, Michael, made investments in Death Row Records at its infancy in 1989 and that she was the company’s first vice president. She sued after the former rap mogu, who allegedly pushed her out after the label started making money.
But on Sept. 20, at Harris’ request, Sotelo voided the judgment after Harris raised issues with how her lawyers from the firm of Wasserman, Comden & Casselman won the case against Knight and Death Row Records.
Harris’ current attorney, Dermot Givens, held a news conference Oct. 14 with Harris in which he alleged the motion to void the judgment was necessary because her former attorneys, the bankruptcy trustee and others worked together to use her to wrongfully obtain the judgment.
Givens alleged that Harris has not received any money from her lawyers who collected part of the default judgment. He told Sotelo Thursday that he should have been given the chance to provide the judge with more information on Harris behalf before Thursday’s ruling was issued.
But according to the court papers of attorneys Peter Ezzell, the attorney for Wasserman, Comden & Casselman, Harris has already collected more than $1 million on the judgment.
Ezzell told the judge he has 17 boxes of documents accumulated since Harris sued in 2002.
“The case has gone on through generations,” Ezzell said.
In his ruling, Sotelo noted that Wasserman, Comden & Casselman was entitled to 40 percent of the judgment under a retainer agreement. The judge further wrote that the law firm sued Givens in September 2005, alleging a conspiracy existed to deprive them of their share of the judgment through the brokering of a secret settlement between Harris and Knight.
A judgment was entered against Givens in 2008 and the law firm has a lien on the Harris judgment, the judge wrote. He also noted Harris has assigned her interest to Conquest Media Group.
The 54-year-old Knight was sentenced to 28 years in prison in October 2018 for running over and killing former rap music label owner Terry Carter in 2015 on the set of the film “Straight Outta Compton.”
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