Boston Business Lawyers & the Costner-Baldwin Feud

Boston business litigation lawyers know that when you ink a deal, you expect the other party is going to hold up their end of the bargain. scales.jpg

When they don’t, you need an experienced Boston business litigation lawyer to help protect your rights.

That’s what’s happening now between Hollywood A-listers Kevin Costner and Stephen Baldwin, who entered into a mutual investment in a device that’s been used to clean the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Baldwin alleges that Costner and his business partner swindled Baldwin and his friend out of their cut of an $18 million deal to purchase the devices following the massive spill in April 2010.

While there are unique challenges to this case (most prospective jurors aren’t quizzed on whether they are huge fans of “Dancing With Wolves” or “The Usual Suspects”), the basic legal principles of business partnership are going to be the same.

It all centers around a device that separates oil from water.

Prior to the spill, Baldwin and his friend owned shares in a company that supplied the devices to clean up oil spills. So did Costner and his business partner.

Baldwin claims that Costner and his business partner actively worked to deprive them of their share of an $18 million deal with BP to buy more than 30 of the devices following the spill.

Baldwin said that he and his friend were not aware of the deal when they agreed to sell their shares – Baldwin for $1.4 million and his friend for $500,000. In fact, the two say they were purposely left out of a meeting that was held among Costner, his business partner and a BP executive, who shook hands on an $18 million deposit for a more than $50 million order of the devices.

Baldwin and his friend say that Costner and his business partner had planned all along to use the money from BP’s deposit to purchase their shares, which would subsequently have been much more valuable than what they were sold for.

However, Costner said he wasn’t there when Baldwin’s friend agreed to sell his interests in the company. What’s more, Costner said he didn’t even know either of them were planning to sell.

Costner has said his only interest was in making sure BP could get a hold of the devices. And in fact, he said, there was no concrete deal to sell anything to BP at the time Baldwin and his friend decided to sell his shares.

Baldwin and his friend are seeking more than $20 million in their civil lawsuit, while Costner and others are countersuing for damages.

What this case illustrates – in addition to the point that you must be careful with whom you enter any sort of business or investment arrangement – is that the terms of these type of arrangements should be legally vetted by a skilled business attorney. Failure to do so could easily result in time-consuming and costly litigation.

What is much more common, of course, is the establishment of local partnerships or limited liability corporations. As well as the sale or merger of businesses operating under various legal structures. Consulting an experienced Massachusetts business attorney today can often save the time and expense of lengthy litigation tomorrow.

A Boston corporate law firm, A Boston business law firm, The Brown Law Firm, LLC, has offices in Belmont and Boston. For a free and confidential consultation, call 617-489-0817 or contact us through this website.

Additional Resources: Trial opens for suit against Costner over BP deal, By Michael Kunzelman, The Boston Herald/Associated Press

More Blog Entries:
Boston Business Litigation: U.S. v. Princeton Review, May 21, 2012, Boston Business Litigation Lawyer Blog

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