Phillips Nizer Wins Major Jury Verdict on Behalf of Client In Case That Hinged on Social Media
Jury orders defendant, entertainer/producer, to pay Phillips Nizer client, Armin Augstein,
$1 Million reward for the return of stolen laptop
New York, NY -- In a jury verdict reached on November 28, 2012, Anthony Ryan Leslie, a.k.a. Ryan Leslie, a musician/entertainer/producer, was ordered to pay Phillips Nizer LLP client, Armin Augstein, a promised $1 million reward for the return of his laptop, hard drive and other property stolen while Mr. Leslie was on tour in Germany in 2010.
In a series of social media messages, Mr. Leslie stated via YouTube and on Twitter that he would pay a reward of $20,000 – later increased to $1 million – for the return of his stolen property that was thereafter discovered by Mr. Augstein in a park near his business in Germany. Mr. Augstein had never heard of Mr. Leslie, but found his social media-generated reward offers on the internet. Mr. Augstein returned Mr. Leslie’s property, but Mr. Leslie refused to honor his promise of the $1 million dollar reward. Two years later, a jury returned a verdict ordering Mr. Leslie to honor that promise.
With an upload of a video on YouTube or a few clicks on social media sites, offering a million dollar reward for the return of property (lost, stolen or otherwise), gets a lot of attention. Reneging on that offer can be costly.
“As we are all learning, social media cuts through time, space and boundaries,” said Michael Fischman, one of the attorneys on the case. “Although Mr. Leslie raised a number of defenses in this case, the jury understood that he failed to live up to his promise. Mr. Augstein was entitled to the reward and we hope that it will be paid without further delay.”
Steven Thal, another attorney on the case who echoed Mr. Fischman’s sentiments said, “Mr. Leslie’s attitude of ignoring our client's repeated emails and letters notifying him the recovery of the lost property, with not even a response of gratitude or acknowledgement, speaks to his character. This could have been resolved years ago and court proceedings could have been avoided.”
Armin Augstein, the plaintiff, was represented by Phillips Nizer Litigation and Intellectual Property Partner Michael S. Fischman and Corporate and International Senior Counsel Steven H. Thal who heads the Firm’s German Practice Group. Florian von Eyb, an associate in the Corporate and German Practice Group, who is an admitted Rechtsanwalt in Germany and attorney in New York, was also instrumental in the preparation of this case.
References: Augstein v. Leslie, No. 11 Civ. 7512 (HB), 2012 WL 77880 (S.D.N.Y., January 10, 2012); Augstein v. Leslie, No. 11 Civ. 7512 (HB), 2012 WL 4928914 (S.D.N.Y., October 17, 2012).
About Phillips Nizer LLP:
Phillips Nizer LLP has been engaged in a wide-ranging practice of domestic and international law for over 85 years. Established by world-renowned trial attorney Louis Nizer, the firm’s principal office is in Manhattan, with additional offices in Garden City, Long Island, East Hampton, Long Island, as well as Hackensack, New Jersey. To learn more about Phillips Nizer LLP, please visit: www.phillipsnizer.com.