Guess Inc. cofounder Paul Marciano has been in the news a lot lately for claims of sexual harassment by women modeling for the company’s ad campaigns.
Now Marciano, who recently escaped an attempt to remove him from the Los Angeles company’s board because of those claims, is fighting back by filing his own lawsuit against Lisa Bloom and The Bloom Firm for allegedly making false threats to extort him out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But Bloom, whose mother is famed attorney Gloria Allred, is fighting back too. “I will not be distracted. This laughable, baseless case will be thrown out early,” she said in an emailed statement.
In a 27-page lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Marciano alleges that Bloom threatened a lawsuit against him knowing it contained blatantly false allegations not backed up by the accuser, who was an unnamed model.
Marciano’s lawsuit claims the Bloom law firm threatened to accuse him of having committed serious and violent felony criminal conduct unless he paid money to Bloom’s client. “In doing so, the Bloom defendants forced the plaintiff to play an extortive game of Russian roulette,” the lawsuit alleged.
In the court papers, Marciano said he was asked to pay $235,000 to a model, unnamed in his lawsuit, whom The Bloom Firm alleged was raped by Marciano.
Marciano, in court papers, said the Bloom law firm made threats of rape knowing that the allegations were false and even disregarded the model’s instructions not to accuse Marciano of rape.
“The client, (hereinafter referred to as “S.S.”) specifically told the Bloom defendants that plaintiff never raped her. But the Bloom defendants paid her no mind. Instead, they told S.S. they would not threaten plaintiff with a rape accusation but did so anyway,” court documents said.
With accusations of rape threatened to be made public, Marciano said in his lawsuit that he and Guess “succumbed to the pressure and paid” to settle the legal issue last year.
In his legal documents, Marciano maintains The Bloom Firm never had any intention or authority to actually file a lawsuit. “This was nothing more than an old-fashioned shakedown,” Marciano claimed.
The original sum floated by The Bloom Firm to settle the matter was $235,000, the lawsuit said.
Bloom, in her email, denied she was part of a shakedown. She said she has many confidential emails from her client “describing her appalling story of what Paul Marciano did to her, which is why she hired us, to get justice against him on her sexual misconduct claims. We get client approval on everything we send out.”
This legal brouhaha started on March 15, 2021, when the human resources department at Guess Inc., a $2.6 billion company, received an email letter from S.S. alleging Marciano had sexually harassed her.
Later, Marciano noted in legal documents that he learned that S.S. never wanted to send the letter, which had been reportedly ghost-written by The Bloom Firm. “The Bloom defendants told S.S. that doing so would create one or more new claims against plaintiff and Guess and would put her in the best position to demand the maximum amount of money,” court documents said.
On April 7, 2021, attorney Bloom corresponded with Marciano’s lawyers, mentioning a pending lawsuit against the Guess executive and how a second lawsuit would be very damaging, the lawsuit said. That led to the monetary settlement last year.
Over the past few years, Marciano, the chief creative officer responsible for the marketing and advertising of the contemporary label, has been battling several sexual harassment allegations from models who have worked in Guess campaigns.
In February 2018, Marciano stepped down from his day-to-day duties while an investigation was conducted into sexual harassment accusations by Kate Upton, who modeled for the denim specialist between 2010 and 2011.
Days earlier, the company’s board had formed a special committee with two independent directors to oversee a sexual harassment investigation, which was conducted by the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers. However, three weeks later, the investigation was taken over by Glaser Well, the same law firm that was the legal counsel to the special committee formed to oversee the harassment investigation.
A year after leaving, Marciano quietly returned to his old job as chief creative officer but relinquished his title of executive chairman of the board.
However, the sexual harassment allegations continue. Earlier this year two former models, who have accused Marciano of sexual misconduct, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Guess’ board members claiming they aided and abetted sexual harassment. The models were Amanda Rodriguez and Gwen, who declined to state her last name.
In April, a major activist investor in Guess, believing the accusations were hurting the company, tried to have Marciano and his brother Maurice Marciano removed from the board at the annual shareholder meeting. The investor, Legion Partner, failed to get enough votes to move forward.