Michael Avenatti, better known as the attorney representing porn star Stormy Daniels against President Donald Trump, has got a few skeletons in his own closet that recently broke loose and have begun to haunt him. Avenatti’s Seattle-based coffee chain was named in a lawsuit for firing a pregnant woman because she was pregnant.
According to the Daily Caller, Elizabeth Eno worked for Tully’s coffee chain from 2012 until she was fired in July 2016. Eno was a productive employee who had been “ranked the second-highest performing store manager in the district and tenth-highest in the entire company, according to the court’s statement of facts.” Just a few days before being fired, the expectant mother had been evaluated by a “secret shopper” and received a score of 89; however, when she told management she was pregnant she was fired and told the reason was due to a bad evaluation. The court, however, found that the defendants “failed to provide a justification for Ms. Eno’s termination based on poor job performance or to further a legitimate business necessity.”
Eno won the lawsuit because the court found the coffee chain had “unlawfully discriminated against Ms. Eno when she was terminated due to her pregnancy.” She was awarded $80,000 because she was unable to find comparable work while pregnant. “Additionally, as a result of Defendants’ actions, Ms. Eno experienced pain and suffering due to being pregnant and having a child while unemployed and unable to take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act,” the court found, which awarded Eno an additional $40,000.
How Avenatti is Involved
Global Baristas US and Global Baristas LLC were both named in the lawsuit. Avenatti, along with movie star Patrick Dempsey formed a partnership in 2013 and acquired Tully’s Coffee chain. However, Dempsey sued the attorney less than two months after forming the partnership, accusing Avenatti of “misrepresenting the company’s available capital and then secretly using the company’s assets to secure a $2 million loan.” At first, Avenatti denied the accusation, but only three days later settled with the actor allowing Dempsey to “walk away from the company.”
As Business Insider reported, Avenatti was supposed to fund the purchase of Tully’s:
According to Dempsey, Avenatti didn’t actually have the funds to buy Tully’s. In the suit, Dempsey claims his business adviser found out through an internet search that Avenatti had borrowed $2 million with an “exorbitant” interest rate of 15% to fund the deal, sparking Dempsey’s decision to sue his way out of the partnership.
“Avenatti concealed the Loan and the Security Agreement from Dempsey,” the complaint says.
Avenatti claims he gave up control of Tully’s more than a year ago; however, Global Baristas US is controlled by Global Baristas LLC which, according to Washington State records, is stilled owned by Avenatti.
Although the coffee chain closed in March of this year, the Daily Caller reported: “Former Tully’s store manager Robert Sifuentez told the Seattle Times that Avenatti’s “name was the only name on my paycheck … up until we closed.”
“I do remain as the company’s general counsel,” Avenatti told TheDCNF on May 10. “I’m not going to disclose how I’m getting paid, what I’m getting paid, what’s relevant to that? No attorney in their right mind would disclose that. That’s ridiculous.”
Tully’s Coffee chain isn’t exactly the pillar of best business practices. It’s been the subject of at least 46 lawsuits. Creditors and vendors have complained they have been “stiffed.” Landlords claimed Global Baristas failed “to pay tens of thousands of dollars in rent, with 13 unlawful detainer cases since 2017,” according to Business Insider:
“So what?” Avenatti said in an email to Business Insider when asked for comment. “Many companies abandon locations and have landlord tenant disputes. How many landlord tenant disputes has MacDonald’s [sic] or Starbucks had during their lifetime?”
As the Daily Caller reported:
Seattle attorney David Nold, who represents several former Tully’s vendors, filed a complaint against Avenatti with the California State Bar on March 26.
“In essence, he bought a company out of bankruptcy and then used it for a ‘pump and dump’ scheme to deprive federal and state taxing authorities of millions of dollars,” Nold wrote in the complaint.
Fox News reported that the California State Bar has responded to that complaint by opening an investigation. Only when the organization “sees evidence of a serious violation” does it go forth with a formal investigation.
The company is also in trouble for owing nearly $5 million in federal taxes and more than $720,000 in Washington State taxes.
“Avenatti personally handles all payments to vendors, landlords, etc.,” one employee told the Seattle Times. “If he’s not the owner, that’s definitely news to us. There’s been no indication to the contrary. That is a very bizarre thing to hear.”
Obviously, Avenatti doesn’t want to be associated with any of this mess. His media advisor Suzy Quinn’s LinkedIn page explains a lot. Under the “experience” heading, Quinn’s first and most recent job is Head of Corporate Communications and PR for none other than Tully’s Coffee. Employment date is listed as 2013 to present. Present as in still working for a company that supposed closed its doors in March.
Next on the list is Media Relations; Ms. Stephanie Clifford (Stormy Daniels) Case, where she lists her job duties as:
Direct media relations around Ms. Stephanie Clifford’s case (Stormy Daniels) winning massive press and continuing to be the number one story in the US news cycle. Ms. Clifford’s appearance on 60 Minutes attracted over 22-million viewers. Lead story on all national television, print, electronic press and social media.
And effectively burying Avenatti’s shady dealings.
Eno Still Hasn’t Received a Dime
Speaking of shady dealings, the coffee giant still hasn’t paid Elizabeth Eno for wrongful termination due to being pregnant. Avenatti’s companies neglected to even send an attorney to court, much less pay the court-ordered damages of more than $120,000.
Eno’s attorney was granted an affidavit on February 8 to garnish the company’s wages from its Key Bank business accounts. Because of penalties and fines for not paying Eno, the judgment has risen to more than $126,000, but Tully’s Coffee company doesn’t look to be paying any time soon. According to Key Bank’s response, the bank reported that the company does not have any property or effects and wrote “N/A” on the court documents.
This is probably only scratching the surface of Avenatti’s less-than-noble activities, but it does give us a good look at the kind of underhanded and sneaky person he is. After representing Paris Hilton in a defamation lawsuit to the tune of $10 million and currently aligned with Stormy Daniels, it’s clear the attorney seeks money, notoriety, and power over honesty and integrity.