Plot Twist: Now Michael Avenatti Is Getting Sued By A Sex Icon

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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  • A judge in California will allow a former Playboy model’s civil suit against Michael Avenatti to proceed.
  • The playmate, Shera Béchard, alleges that Avenatti sabotaged a non-disclosure agreement she reached with a prominent Republican fundraiser. 
  • Avenatti denies wrongdoing and predicts he will prevail. 

A judge in California ruled that Michael Avenatti may be liable for damages after he allegedly revealed the existence of a hush agreement between Elliott Broidy, the prominent Republican financier, and his mistress, Playboy playmate Shera Béchard.

Judge Elizabeth Allen White of the Los Angeles Superior Court will allow Béchard’s lawyers to argue Avenatti effectively destroyed their agreement by revealing confidential information about the contract, which he allegedly extracted from Béchard’s former attorneys.

The case was occasioned when Béchard became pregnant with Broidy’s child during the course of their affair. She retained an attorney, Keith Davidson, to represent her in executing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Broidy. Béchard’s complaint alleges that Davidson enlisted Michael Cohen — an acquaintance with whom he had previously worked on NDAs — to approach Broidy and offer to represent him in his dealings with Béchard.

Cohen is a confidant of President Donald Trump who has since pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax fraud, and bank fraud.

Broidy and Béchard reached an agreement providing that Broidy would pay Béchard $1.6 million over several installments in exchange for her silence in December 2017.

Béchard received the first two settlement installments, but the quarterly payments ceased when The Wall Street Journal reported on the existence of the hush agreement on April 13. (RELATED: With Avenatti In The Spotlight, His Own Questionable Past Emerges)

On the night before the WSJ report appeared, Avenatti tweeted that Cohen helped arrange an NDA similar to the sort Trump reached with his own client, Stephanie Clifford, a porn star better known by the stage name “Stormy Daniels,” who claims she had a sexual encounter with the president in 2006.

Avenatti claimed credit for the story shortly after its publication in the Journal, and expressed regret that he had not received the attribution he believed he was owed.

Béchard fired Davidson when she learned of his standing relationship with Cohen, for fear that the pair were conspiring to profit off her relationship with Broidy. She further charges that Davidson leaked the existence of the NDA and its details to Avenatti. Davidson was Clifford’s attorney before Avenatti took over her representation.

With the benefit of new counsel, Béchard is now suing Broidy, Davidson, and Avenatti. She hopes to receive the outstanding balance of the $1.6 million settlement reached in 2017, and recover damages from Davidson and Avenatti.

“[Béchard] neither knows about nor ever consented to Mr. Davidson or Mr. Avenatti revealing her confidential information or the terms (or even existence) of the settlement agreement,” the complaint reads.

Avenatti moved to dismiss Béchard’s claims. The judge agreed to dismiss two of them, but allowed a third alleging Avenatti interfered with her contract to proceed.

“A trier of fact could find that Avenatti was a substantial link in the chain of causation of plaintiff’s damages by giving Broidy an excuse from further performing his payment obligations under the settlement agreement,” the decision reads.

Speaking after the ruling on Twitter, Avenatti predicted he would ultimately prevail in the dispute.

“This morning, the court threw out two of the three bogus claims filed against me by Ms. Bechard, and Peter Stris,” he tweeted, referring to Béchard’s new attorney. “The court also denied their request for attorneys’ fees and invited me to seek my fees. Stris and his client will ultimately be paying me when this charade is over.”

Avenatti will appeal the decision allowing the third complaint to move forward. Should that appeal fail, a trial will follow.

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