Siding with an Orrick trial team, a Delaware Chancery Court judge has preserved our client Silvio Scaglia’s position as the controlling shareholder and sole director of Freedom Holding (“Freedom”), owner of the world’s largest modeling and talent company Elite Worldwide Group (“EWG”) as well as other assets. American Lawyer recognized the win in a Litigators of the Week feature.
Orrick was retained as lead trial counsel in this highly-publicized case less than 40 days before trial. The litigation involved celebrity Julia Haart, star in the Netflix show, My Unorthodox Life, who sought to tie up EWG, claiming co-equal ownership of Freedom and a deadlock that precluded her termination as EWG CEO. Given the uncertainty the litigation created in the marketplace over who was in charge of EWG, the Delaware Chancery Court ordered expedited discovery and trial.
In her May 26 ruling, Vice Chancellor Morgan Zurn found that Scaglia controls Freedom as the majority shareholder and that Haart holds no positions at either Freedom or EWG. With control over EWG’s powerful roster of over 5,000 diverse personalities across fashion, entertainment and culture (reaching nearly two billion social media users world-wide) at stake, the decision removes the cloud over who is in charge of the Freedom and Elite Companies and their business operations. The parties are awaiting a more detailed opinion that reflects the Court’s specific factual findings and legal reasoning.
Partnering with a veteran team of litigators at Richards Layton (led by Rudy Koch), our team engaged in highly expedited discovery, utilizing our innovative e-Discovery team to review tens of thousands of documents and spearheading critical depositions in less than two weeks. Partner Peter Bicks led our trial team, presenting Scaglia’s testimony at trial, where he explained, given his decades of business experience and Ms. Haart’s conversely minimal business credentials, why he always intended to retain voting control of Freedom; partner Lisa Simpson successfully cross-examined Ms. Haart, exposing her history of misrepresentations; Rudy Koch presented the testimony of EWG CEO, Paolo Barbieri, a key non-party witness who flew in from Italy to testify at trial; and partner Marc Shapiro presented critical trial testimony via deposition of EWG and Freedom accountant, Jeffrey Feinman, who managed the companies’ corporate affairs.
In addition to the Delaware case, we are also engaged in litigation in which Scaglia seeks to hold Haart responsible for misappropriating corporate funds.