Home > News Center > Results > Summary Adjudication Granted in “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Legal Malpractice Action

Summary Adjudication Granted in “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Legal Malpractice Action

March 4, 2011

B. Casey Yim and Scott R. Jackman obtained summary adjudication on behalf of attorney clients in a $1.2 million legal malpractice case where television personality Duane “Dog” Chapman of reality show, “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” sought to recover attorney fees paid for by the show’s production company, A&E Entertainment. The case originated from Chapman’s arrest on kidnapping charges by Puerto Vallarta Police in Mexico.

The incident occurred while the "Dog Bounty Hunting" team was filming the pilot to the now highly successful A&E reality show, which documented Chapman’s capture of Max Factor heir and then-fugitive serial rapist Andrew Luster. Luster had "skipped bail" while standing trial on rape charges in Santa Barbara Federal Court, and fled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where he was hiding out when the Dog team caught up with him. Following the Luster capture, and the Chapmans' arrest in Mexico, the Chapmans themselves failed to appear in court, instead returning to the United States where they hired M&C’s clients as their attorneys. The attorneys thereafter engaged the Mexican officials in protracted negotiations, thereby prolonging the Mexican criminal case long enough for the Statute of Limitations to run. The Mexican authorities issued an extradition warrant on the Chapmans, and A&E decided to hire their own Mexican counsel to take over the case from M&C's attorney clients.

The Chapmans were later dismissed based on the running of the Statute of Limitations. They then sued M&C’s clients, alleging legal malpractice and claiming alleged damages consisting of attorney fees paid by A&E. However, the arbitrator found that because the Chapmans got the "best result possible" in the Mexican criminal case, and that the attorney fees were voluntarily paid by a third party, the Chapmans’ legal malpractice claims were unfounded and dismissed (lacking in "causation" and "damages").

The case remains pending on ancillary and nominal issues.