A complex court struggle involving charges of exploitation and elder abuse by Stan Lee’s inner circle has finished, with an arbitrator finding with Lee’s former attorney that the action against him was launched too late.

The five-year legal nightmare began with an investigation into Lee’s estate by The Hollywood Reporter, which detailed charges that persons introduced into his life by his daughter, J.C., took millions of dollars from him. Jerardo Olivarez, Lee’s former business manager, was awarded power of attorney. Olivarez allegedly pushed that Lee engage Uri Litvak as his corporate attorney, but he failed to disclose a conflict of interest arising from Litvak’s representation of him in personal matters. A year after suing Olivarez, Lee also sued Litvak, describing the two as “unscrupulous businessmen, sycophants, and opportunists” looking to take advantage of him following the death of his wife.

However, a procedural flaw in the lawsuit caused Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Epstein to rule in favor of Litvak on Tuesday, after an arbitrator determined in February that the statute of limitations to sue him had expired. Lee has a one-year window to include Litvak in the case beginning on April 12, 2018, when the complaint against Olivarez was filed. Litvak was sued on April 18, 2018, five days after the maximum permissible time to file a lawsuit had passed.

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The trustee for the estate, Joan Lee, maintained that Litvak’s counsel of her father continued after the complaint was filed, thus stopping the clock on the statute of limitations.

Litvak responded by citing a letter from Lee dated December 13, 2017, informing him that he had been dismissed. A communication from his replacement, Tom Lallas, was included in the correspondence, directing Litvak to transfer all necessary files to him.

Arbitrator David Brickner dismissed Lee’s estate’s assertion that there were unanswered issues over whether Litvak continued to represent Lee until 2021.

“In the arbitrator’s mind, the letter from Mr. Lee on December 13, 2017, leaves no doubt that Mr. Litvak’s professional services were terminated, both in the minds of Mr. Litvak and Mr. Lee,” Brickner ruled. “No reasonable person could conclude otherwise, and Ms. Lee has raised no factual or legal issue indicating the contrary.”

The decision puts an end to judicial proceedings involving those accused of stealing from Lee in his final years. Olivarez paid accusations against him last year. Shortly later, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George Lomeli ruled a mistrial in Lee’s former business manager Keya Morgan’s criminal prosecution. She dropped the accusations when the jury declared an 11-1 tie in favor of acquittal. Morgan was accused of stealing more than $220,000 from Lee’s memorabilia signings six months before his death. Prior to the trial, charges of elder abuse and wrongful imprisonment were dismissed.


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