For years, Stan Lee‘s estate has been fighting a hard legal battle claiming that Lee’s ex-business manager Jerardo Olivarez and attorney Uri Litvak stole millions from the comic creator. And that they engaged in behavior that was both abusive and coercive in order to gain wealth from Lee’s vast estate. Unfortunately, the battle has failed due to a technicality. An arbitrator sided with Litvak, claiming the lawsuit was brought against him was made too late, missing the lawsuit’s statute of limitations by only five days. In other words, because it had been too long since the initial issue, he could no longer be sued for it.
Stan and Joan’s daughter Joan Celia “JC” Lee, who was trustee for the estate, claimed Litvak’s representation continued past the period the lawsuit was filed, which would hold the statute of limitations in limbo. However, Litvak produced proof to the contrary, citing a document sent by Stan claiming Litvak had been discharged at the time. Within that same correspondence was a message from Litvak’s replacement, Tom Lallas, asking that all relevant files be transferred to him.
Bad Timing Was All It Took
Arbitrator David Brickner says this leaves little room for discussion as to whether the timeframe was still open. “The letter from Mr. Lee on December 13, 2017, leaves no doubt in the arbitrator’s mind that Mr. Litvak’s professional services were terminated, both in the minds of Mr. Litvak and Mr. Lee,” Brickner said. “No reasonable person could conclude otherwise and Ms. Lee has raised no issue of fact or law suggesting the contrary.”
It’s a pretty sad end to what sounds like a number of people taking advantage of Lee’s success and profits. Olivarez settled claims against him last year. Lee’s former business manager Keya Morgan was accused of stealing up to $220,000 in proceeds from memorabilia signings approximately six months before his death. But the case was dropped in an 11 to 1 vote for acquittal. The judge deemed it a mistrial. In the legacy of a prolific creator, this is a dark shadow. Especially if the allegations are true. One in which the “unscrupulous businessmen, sycophants and opportunists” who according to JC, got off scot free and with fat wallets.