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Protect your contract, protect your assets: a cautionary tale

When it comes to entertainers and professional athletes, there is perhaps one thing that they have in common above all else: their financial success is contingent upon their level of skill and talent. The more successful they are, the more likely they are to sign better contract agreements that provide them with better income for a longer amount of time. Having an experienced attorney at their side ensures these contracts are sound and in the entertainer or athlete's best interests.

But there is another situation in which a skilled lawyer is undoubtedly necessary: when that entertainer or athlete is facing litigation. As our Los Angeles readers know, everything from copyright infringement to contract disputes can lead to civil litigation, which oftentimes also comes with a hefty price tag because of a person's celebrity status. In fact, some cases may be so complex that they span beyond entertainment law and venture into other realms of the law as well.

To highlight the seriousness of litigation and the importance of seeking appropriate legal representation for your particular situation, we'd like to present the case of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson who recently filed for bankruptcy after his parents allegedly borrowed roughly $15 million against the $30.5 million contract he signed with the Los Angeles Kings back in 2011. The 27-year-old now faces a complex legal situation that may end up costing him both money and his relationship with his parents.

For those who have not heard about the case, problems began for the NHL player when he gave his mother power of attorney. According to reports, his parents used this privilege to take out a series of high-interest loans against their son's contract. When they defaulted on payments, debt collectors went after Johnson whose name appears on the loans, which have led to a series of lawsuits against the hockey player.

As you can imagine, there is a long road ahead of Johnson that will include settling the lawsuits against him in late January, rebuilding his assets if he is granted debt relief, and perhaps discussing with a skilled lawyer ways to protect his contract from suffering further misappropriations in the future. After all, he worked hard to secure the multi-million dollar contract with the Kings, which is something he likely does not want to see squandered down the road.

Sources: Forbes, "Bankruptcy of NHL's Jack Johnson: Another Sad Case of Parents Blowing an Athlete's Money," Eric Macramalla, Nov. 25, 2014

USA Today Sports, "NHL player files for bankruptcy after parents borrow $15 million in his name," Mike Foss, Nov. 20, 2014

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