Friday, March 04, 2011

"Engel said it wasn't worth the time and trouble of trying the case."

The LAT's Mike Boehm reports that Clint Arthur's pointless lawsuit against Louis Vuitton has settled, "for a $12,000 refund, plus interest — what Louis Vuitton had offered before he sued."

So to recap:

In the summer of 2008, Arthur sued LV for violating the California print disclosure statute in connection with the sale of some works by Takashi Murakami at his exhibition at L.A. MOCA earlier that year. At the time, I wrote that there was something odd about the claim:

" As I read the statute, the available recovery for a violation is 'the consideration paid by the purchaser for the [print], with interest ..., upon the return of the multiple in the condition in which received by the purchaser' -- in other words, you can return the print and get your money back (with interest). If you can show the violation was willful, you can get three times that amount (but presumably you still have to return the print). I would think that Vuitton ... has a pretty strong defense to a willfulness charge since they are not really in the art-selling business and therefore wouldn't have reason to know about something the LA Times calls 'an obscure chapter of the California Civil Code called the Fine Prints Act.' .... Vuitton has already offered the plaintiff a refund plus interest (i.e., what he would be entitled to for a non-willful violation), but he turned it down."

In 2009, a state court judge dismissed the case filed there, calling it a "prime example" of "opportunistic litigation."

Arthur's separate federal lawsuit somehow survived some early motion practice, but, eventually, last spring, most of that lawsuit was thrown out as well:

"We're left, then, with a 'gotcha' claim: that LV violated the technical requirements of the California Fine Prints Act. There really isn't any question that they did so. So Arthur is entitled to a refund; that's the remedy for a violation of the statute -- and Arthur could have had one at any point during this process. The only remaining issue would seem to be whether or not it's fair to charge LV -- not generally in the art gallery business -- with willfully violating what the LA Times called 'an obscure chapter of the California Civil Code,' such that Arthur (and, perhaps, anyone else who wants to trade in their print) is entitled to treble damages. So, at best, Arthur would be entitled to $18,000 per print instead of $6,000. It all seems so pointless to me."

And finally, the recent settlement, with Arthur finally accepting the refund that was offered to him all along.