Ex-Playmate sues over hush-money pact tied to secret pregnancy
NEW YORK — The Playmate who signed a $1.6 million hush agreement with Trump donor Elliott Broidy to hide their alleged affair and abortion filed a lawsuit Friday against Broidy, her former lawyer and Michael Avenatti.
The lawsuit was immediately sealed, but sources said it relates to alleged breaches of the nondisclosure agreement. The complaint came just days after Broidy's reported decision to halt his $200,000 installment payments on the pact.
One source said Shera Bechard is accusing Avenatti, who does not represent her, of speaking publicly about private elements of the deal around the time The Wall Street Journal confirmed the agreement in April.
Speaking to the New York Daily News on Friday, Avenatti scoffed at the accusation.
“This is laughable,” said the lawyer who represents porn star Stormy Daniels in her separate NDA battle with President Donald Trump.
“I never knew the terms of the (Bechard deal) or that there was any confidentiality provision,” he told the Daily News. “If that is the basis for them suing me, they should be suing the Wall Street Journal reporters and every other reporter that reported on the alleged agreement.”
In a Twitter statement, Avenatti said it was earlier Friday that he first learned of the complaint that also names Bechard's former lawyer Keith Davidson as a defendant.
Davidson brokered Bechard's deal and was the same lawyer who represented Daniels when she signed her $130,000 hush-money agreement with Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen. Cohen, meanwhile, was the lawyer who allegedly represented Broidy in the Bechard deal.
Avenatti called the sealing of the new complaint “highly unusual under California law.”
“I have no idea why I would be named in this lawsuit unless it is a ploy by Ms. Bechard to get publicity. I never represented her and have never communicated with her in my life. I was never a party to any agreement with her and I have never had any obligation to her. Her beef, if any, lies with her own attorney Keith Davidson and Mr. Broidy, or whomever impregnated her,” he tweeted.
Bechard's lawyer responded by claiming Avenatti was hardly blindsided.
“You know why you are included in this complaint,” the lawyer, Peter Stris, tweeted to Avenatti. “You understood that your previous actions might well lead to this when you called our firm and begged us not to sue you several days ago.”
Speaking to the Daily News, Avenatti said he only communicated with Stris prior to Friday to learn the basis for the lawsuit.
“I told them, ‘Do not sue me. There's no basis to sue me.' They refuse to tell me the basis, and there is no legal basis. I never owed her any obligation of confidentiality,” he said.
“I hold the record in California for the largest malicious prosecution settlement ever at $39 million. If Mr. Stris is not careful, I'm going to break my record,” he told the Daily News.
Attempts to reach Broidy's lawyer were not immediately successful Friday.
According to a Sunday story in The Wall Street Journal, Broidy decided to withhold his most recent $200,000 installment payment to Bechard because he now considers their agreement kaput.
“Elliott specifically was paying for confidentiality that would shield his family from the embarrassing mistake he made,” Broidy's lawyer Chris Clark from Latham & Watkins in New York told WSJ. “We can prove there was an intentional breach that renders the contract null and void.”
Clark claimed Davidson improperly disclosed details about the Bechard agreement to Avenatti.
Bechard, who also dated the late Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner, reportedly got pregnant during her affair with Broidy and later had an abortion.
Her privacy pact, reached in late 2017, used the same aliases — “David Dennison” and “Peggy Peterson” — that Cohen used in the $130,000 NDA deal he brokered with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in 2016.
Avenatti reportedly hinted during an appearance on MSNBC's “Morning Joe” in April that Broidy might not be the one who needed the agreement with Bechard.
“I think at some point we are going to find out, if in fact, the client in connection with the ($1.6 million) settlement was, in fact, Mr. Broidy. I'm going to leave it at that,” Avenatti said, according to RawStory.com.
A Broidy source with knowledge of the Bechard agreement previously told the Daily News that any speculation Broidy was helping silence Bechard over an affair she actually had with Trump was “beyond absurd.”
“No one, no one would put their family through what Elliott's family has gone through on this for Donald Trump. He didn't really know Donald Trump. He was his third choice in the campaign,” the source said.
The source claimed Broidy quickly admitted to his alleged affair with Bechard when contacted by the Journal because it was the truth.
“That is absolutely the kind of person he is. (He) issued a statement, very simple, accepting responsibility for what he did, that was it,” the source said.