Local lawyer gains win in O.J. Simpson lawsuit

  • Comments
  • Print

Sommer Barnard attorney Jonathan Polak has won a partial victory in the lawsuit he orchestrated against O.J. Simpson on behalf of the family of Ronald Goldman.

A judge in Los Angeles yesterday ordered that Simpson pay the family earnings he made from making television commercials and such movies as Naked Gun and No Place to Hide.

However, Reuters reported, Superior Court Judge Gerald Rosenberg delayed a decision on whether Simpson could be forced to pay the family the $1 million advance Simpson reported received for the book, “If I Did It,” which wasn’t published.

And Fred Goldman, the father of murdered Ronald Goldman, cannot collect Simpson earnings from future TV and film work because those earnings are “speculative,” Reuters said.

“We are thrilled with this decision,” Polak said in a statement. “Though we don’t know what the proceeds will be, there is still money to collect. This is a very big step toward the Goldman family finally collecting on the judgment owed to them.”

Simpson has not paid nearly $20 million in penalties incurred from the 1997 wrongful death trial of Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, his former wife. Simpson was acquitted of their 1994 murders.

Polak’s case was appealed after a Santa Monica, Calif., Superior Court judge in October rejected his claim that Ronald Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, should own the rights as a way to recoup civil penalties owed by the former football standout. Simpson could not be forced to give away his right of publicity, that court ruled.

Polak, who chairs the intellectual property practice group at the Indianapolis law firm, claimed that the difference between the rights of publicity and privacy made Simpson’s claim valid.

Right of publicity is a commercial intellectual property right that applies to the use of a person’s name, image or likeness in advertising and other commercial endeavors.

Karl Manders, owner of Indianapolis-based Continental Enterprises Inc., an investigative agency that specializes in intellectual property, conceived the idea that led to the lawsuit.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.