LATEST: Photographer LARRY BIRKHEAD is taking legal action against his former lawyer Debra Opri for allegedly defrauding him out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
On Wednesday (30May07) Birkhead hit back at claims made by Opri that he refused to pay $650,000 (GBP325,000) in legal fees following his custody battle for Anna Nicole Smith's daughter earlier this year (07).
Birkhead was named as the father of nine-month-old Dannielynn in April (07), but Opri insists the bill for her part in the court case is still outstanding.
Yesterday (01Jun07) Birkhead filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, in which he claims Opri promised to represent him free of charge because "the publicity from her representation of Plaintiff would greatly benefit Opri's legal career".
Birkhead signed a $1,050,000 (GBP525,000) deal with NBC Universal to appear on various U.S. TV shows, according to website TMZ.com.
His first paycheque was for $865,000 (GBP432,500), of which he claims Opri only paid him $200,000 (GBP100,000), depositing the remaining $665,000 (GBP332,500) into her client trust account.
In the suit, Birkhead alleges he "specifically advised Opri that she was not authorised to take control or possession of any of the funds".
Birkhead accuses Opri of refusing to release the funds, conversion, fraud, legal malpractice and of placing "her own career desires and needs as a priority over the needs, interests and desires of her own client".
He is seeking a minimum of $885,000 (GBP442,500) in damages and further punitive damages and rescission of any fee agreements he claims to have signed under fraudulent pretences.