Beach Boys Founder Sues Over Handling of Trademark Litigation

LAW by Amanda Bronstad

Talk about bad vibrations. Alan Jardine, founding member and guitarist for The Beach Boys, has filed a $1 million malpractice suit against a Los Angeles attorney who represented him in a trademark fight with the rock group's former record label.

Jardine lost the dispute with Brother Records Inc., which claimed he was not entitled to use the Beach Boys' name for his new band, Beach Boys Family and Friends. The band one of three spawned from the original Beach Boys after founding member Carl Wilson died in 1998 is now called Al Jardine's Family & Friends Beach Band.

Jardine claims Vincent Chieffo, who represented him from 1999 to June 2001, missed a filing deadline for a counterclaim to the suit in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California.

Chieffo, now a partner at Greenberg Traurig LLP, was at Gipson Hoffman & Pancione PC in Los Angeles until 2000, when he switched to Greenberg Traurig, according to the malpractice suit, which names both firms as defendants.

Jardine did file a counterclaim against Brother Records for breach of contract, but claims Chieffo later advised him to revise the claim to add a charge of breach of fiduciary duty. The revised counterclaim was filed late, however, and denied by the court, according to the malpractice suit.

Jardine lost the trademark dispute in August 2001 and is appealing the decision, according to his new attorney, Jeffrey Benice, based in Irvine.

Chieffo could not be reached for comment, but a Greenberg Traurig spokeswoman said the allegations were without merit and that the firm would fight them.

Attorneys at Gipson Hoffman & Pancione did not return calls seeking comment.

Corporate Rankings

Three Los Angeles law firms are among the Top 15 in Corporate Board Member's "America's Best Corporate Lawyers."

The July/August issue of magazine listed Latham & Watkins (No. 8), Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP (No. 10) and O'Melveny & Myers LLP (No. 14) were among the top firms in America. The top five firms were all New York-based, with No. 1 being Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, which has an L.A. office.

Corporate Board Member magazine covers corporate governance and boardroom issues. The survey is based on a poll of the magazine's readers.

Water Works

Gary Ottoson, senior partner and former chairman of Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP, is leaving the firm to set up a new L.A. office of San Diego-based Bacalski Byrne & Koska PC, where he will continue to handle ongoing litigation for American States Water Co. and its subsidiary, Southern California Water Co.

Staff reporter Amanda Bronstad can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 225, or at

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