Last fall, Jonathan Goldsmith, known as the “most interesting man in the world” of Dos Equis advertisement fame, was sued for breach of contract by his former talent agency after allegedly withholding commissions owed to the agency. Goldsmith, who began portraying the “most interesting man in the world” in 2006, earns approximately $1 million per year and is required by contract to pay a 10% commission to his talent agency. The ongoing lawsuit in Los Angeles is over Goldsmith’s alleged failure to pay those commissions.What began as a straightforward breach of contract case took an interesting turn when Goldsmith filed a counterclaim in February, alleging that the owner of the talent agency was not who he said he was, but rather a failed actor who assumed a fake name in an effort to launch a new career as a personal manager. The counterclaim further alleges that after Goldsmith executed a contract extension with Dos Equis, which required strict confidentiality of its terms, Plaintiffs disclosed its payment terms, damaging Goldsmith’s relationship with Dos Equis and jeopardizing his future as the beer’s spokesman.
This month, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barbara Meiers granted Plaintiffs’ motion to dismiss Goldsmith’s counterclaim, noting that Goldsmith was unable to establish any probability of success on his claims and that there was no basis to support the countersuit. Goldsmith plans to appeal the dismissal of his counterclaim, and this litigation is shaping up to be costly for both sides. The case serves as an interesting reminder that staying out of court and avoiding costly litigation requires not just ironing out specific contract terms up front, but also adhering to them. A textbook example of when litigation simply isn’t worthwhile, this case indicates that it would likely have been less costly for Goldsmith to pay the 10% commission than to wage war in the courtroom by bringing frivolous counterclaims.