By SAMUEL MAULL
NEW YORK — Judith Regan, the publisher fired amid the controversy of releasing O.J. Simpson’s hypothetical confession If I Did It, was sued for legal fees Monday by the firm that prepared her lawsuit against HarperCollins LLC.
In court papers, Dreier LLP says Regan reneged on a retainer agreement she signed and then fired the law firm ‘‘in a transparent and calculated effort to avoid paying petitioners the agreed-upon fee.’’
After Dreier prepared and filed the lawsuit, court papers say, Regan hired Los Angeles lawyer Bertram Fields to negotiate a settlement with HarperCollins, which had fired her. The terms were not disclosed.
After the settlement was final, Regan fired Dreier and refused to pay the firm, court papers say.
The lawsuit names Fields as a defendant and accuses him of interference with the business relationship between Dreier and Regan.
Fields said he had not seen Dreier’s complaint but the claims were ‘‘utter hogwash’’ and had ‘‘absolutely no truth in them whatsoever.’’
‘‘I was called in to help settle the case, and I helped get it settled,’’ Fields said. ‘‘I did not replace them as litigation counsel. I had nothing to do with their being fired.’’
Regan’s current lawyer, Joseph Cotchett, did not return a telephone call seeking comment Monday.
Judith Regan (AP file photo)
Regan, 54, sued HarperCollins (owned by News Corp.) in November for $100 million for defamation, claiming the publishing company’s employees falsely accused her of anti-Semitism. She said that was one of the company’s bogus excuses for firing her.
Regan, who worked for HarperCollins for 12 years and was known for provocative best-sellers such as Jose Canseco’s Juiced and Jenna Jameson’s How to Make Love Like a Porn Star, and the company settled in January with Fields as her lawyer.
Dreier’s lawsuit says Regan and the firm agreed in August 2007 that if she and HarperCollins settled before the company replied in court, Dreier would get $125,000 plus 20 percent of any amount she got over $6.5 million.
However, court papers say, the retainer agreement also stated that if Regan and the publisher settled after the defendants responded, then Dreier would get 25 percent of Regan’s recovery, plus reimbursement for costs of preparing the case.
Dreier agreed to give a second law firm, Redniss & Associates, an agreed-upon percentage of whatever Dreier earned in the case. Redniss is named with Dreier as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Regan, who never signed the August agreement, sent Dreier a check dated Jan. 30, 2008, for $125,000, ‘‘which Regan mischaracterized as legal fees paid in full,’’ court papers say. The firm returned Regan’s check, they say.