Rodney King's Legal Wars Continue

ByABC News
August 16, 2000, 9:23 PM

Aug. 16 -- Despite his famous plea after his 1991 beating by Los Angeles police officers, Rodney King has not been able to just get along with his attorneys since a jury awarded him millions in his 1994 civil suit.

In a videotape that sparked outrage nationwide, King was beaten by four baton-wielding police officers. Images of the videotape sparked riots when the officers were acquitted at a criminal trial in 1993. During the riots, King implored the crowds to end the violence, asking, Please cant we all just get along?

King filed that federal suit against the city of Los Angeles. The jury awarded $3.8 million in damages and a federal judge ordered the city to pay him an additional $1.6 million to handle attorneys fees.

Whose Share is Fair?Since then, King and his trial attorneys have not gotten along and have squabbled in court over the money. King has claimed his lawyers tricked him and took more than their fair share of his jury award. According to King, he had an agreement that specified his attorneys would get 25 percent of any award. However, in Kings contracts with his attorneys, Steven Lerman and Milton Grimes, it was never clarified who would was entitled to additional attorneys fees awarded.

In a deposition last year, King said he felt like his attorneys had betrayed him and took advantage of him.

I feel like I took an awful beating from the police, and now my own lawyers are beating up on me, King testified. I feel like they took advantage of my lack of understanding and they muscled their educational background to deceive, mislead and rob me out of monies that belong to me.

Failed LitigationThe lawyers claimed the $1.6 million awarded by the judge for themselves. According to court documents, Kings lawyers have received approximately $2.3 million in total while King has received only $1.9 million. The remainder of the award went toward paying medical bills, expert witness fees and other expenses incurred while Kings suit was prepared.