A lawyer who represented Rodney King in the videotaped beating case has filed suit against him, claiming King failed to pay nearly $1 million for legal work.
Attorney Milton Grimes of Newport Beach also wants $1.4 million in damages; he says King defamed him in a television news program.
“We had an agreement,” said Grimes, who filed the lawsuit Thursday in Orange County Superior Court. “I have no qualms at all about this.”
King’s 1991 police beating led to two high-profile trials and the Los Angeles riots of April 1992. Two officers eventually were convicted on federal civil charges and King was awarded $3.8 million from the city.
Grimes said he and King had an oral agreement that entitled him to one-quarter of any judgment - or $954,000 - on top of $456,000 in fees that a judge ordered the city to pay directly to Grimes.
“I worked with him on a daily basis preparing him for the case and just keeping him alive and advising him,” Grimes said.
“I spent $300,000 of my own money on this case for doctors and experts.”
Attorney Steven Lerman, representing King in the fee dispute, said his client never agreed to pay Grimes a fourth of his judgment.
“Just because he is Rodney King doesn’t mean he should be beaten up for fees,” Lerman said. “All the lawyers in this case, with the exception of Mr. Grimes, have agreed to take the attorney fee awarded by the court and live with that … only Grimes wants more.”
Grimes also accused King of defaming him in May by saying on a local television news program that Grimes kept all but $500,000 of his judgment.
Grimes claims the statement implied he “had in some fashion absconded, stolen and/or duped him out of the portion of the judgment.”