A judge ruled in favor of “Criminal Minds” star A.J. Cook on Monday in her dispute with her former attorneys, who said they were entitled to 5 percent of her payments from the hit CBS drama.
Cook argued that attorney Neil Meyer and his firm, Meyer & Downs, raised their fee from 2.5 percent per episode of “Criminal Minds” to 5 percent without her agreement, and that her then-manager, David Guillod, arranged for the increased payments to be made to Meyer & Downs without her consent.
She left Guillod in 2017 when he was accused of sexually assaulting four women — accusations he denies. She then stopped paying both the lawyers and Guillod’s former management company, Primary Wave.
Meyer & Downs sued, saying the firm was owed fees because of a verbal contract. Cook’s attorney, Michael Saltz, argued that an oral contract wasn’t enforceable for contingency fees. (A contingency fee is a fee that is conditioned on a client’s success.)
Superior Court Judge Gregory W. Alarcon agreed with Cook and Saltz, ruling Monday that “because the fee agreement at issue in this matter is a contingency fee agreement… and as the agreement was orally made, the contract is voidable.”
Cook, meanwhile, is suing Meyer & Downs for the return of $85,500 that she says she previously paid them, plus additional damages. Her lawsuit claims breach of fiduciary duty, unlawful disclosure of confidential information, and indemnity.
“This is a big win for A.J. and all actors who find themselves being bullied by their former representation,” Saltz said. “Although the case is not over, there is essentially nothing left of Meyer and Downs claims against A.J., and A.J. maintains all of her claims against Meyer & Downs.”
He added: “Meyer & Downs’ claims had no merit from the very beginning, They were unlawful on many levels and no reasonable attorney would have pursued them. Now that we have prevailed on the merits, we will be pursuing Meyer & Downs and their counsel for malicious prosecution.”
TheWrap reached out to Meyer for comment by phone and email, writing, “a judge has ruled against you on the issue of the fees.”
Meyer responded in an email, “That is not exactly true and definitely misleading,” but did not respond to repeated requests for elaboration.
When Cook sued Guillod in February, a Guillod rep said her lawsuit was “frivolous” and an “attempt to distract from her own financial liability.”
“No criminal or civil charges have ever been brought against Guillod,” Guillod’s rep added.
Cook joined “Criminal Minds” in 2005 as supervisory special agency Jennifer “JJ” Jareau.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this story.