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‘Groomzilla’ Todd Remis: What Was He Thinking?

Todd Remis and Milena Grzibovska

Ever since his heavy-handed lawsuit against his wedding photographer made national news, litigious groomzilla Todd J. Remis has been the butt of many jokes. And he’s also been the subject of much speculation, to wit: What the heck was he thinking?

The lawsuit seems inane and insane (especially when you consider that Remis and his wife are no longer married). But there must be an explanation, right? Todd Remis — a graduate of Bowdoin College, and a former research analyst at several Wall Street firms — is clearly an intelligent man. And his father, Shepard M. Remis, is a litigation partner at Goodwin Procter. So it’s not as if the aggrieved groom lacked access to wise counsel.

A college friend of Todd Remis tries to shed some light on the situation….

Todd Greene, a friend of Todd Remis since their time together at Bowdoin in the 1980s, writes as follows over at the Huffington Post (in a piece we noted in today’s Morning Docket):

I was reading [the Times article about the lawsuit] because Todd Remis, the disgruntled groom in question, called me 10 minutes earlier to alert me of the situation.

“I’m surprised you haven’t called me,” he said before I could even say hello.

“What do you mean?” I replied, not understanding the urgent nature of the call.

I talk to Todd, an old college friend, maybe once a month since graduating from Bowdoin in 1989. Since then he has worked at a few of the top investment management firms in the industry. Todd is usually reserved and upbeat, especially for a guy who hasn’t worked in three years. In 2008 he left work when his long-time boss retired, and Todd also left the firm. For the first year off, I recall he worked on getting his golf handicap to single digits; the second year he called himself semi-retired; and this last year he’s deemed himself a professional networker who is now, after extensive travels through Europe and Asia, actively looking for a job.

Consider this a lesson in the danger of having too much time on your hands. If you have nothing better to do, you might find yourself filing civil actions of dubious merit, like a pro se litigant stuck in prison. Idle hands truly are the devil’s tools.

(Also: it must be nice to have a wealthy Biglaw partner as a father, right? Alumni of Wall Street firms often have lots of money in the bank, sometimes from generous severance. But three years of unemployment, especially when that unemployment includes “extensive travels through Europe and Asia,” has to take a toll on one’s bank balance eventually.)

Back to Todd Remis:

“Pick up The New York Times. They published an article about my lawsuit and now it’s all over the Internet. It doesn’t look good. I’m not happy because many of the statements made in the newspaper are incorrect. They are turning this into a circus.”

As my colleague Staci wrote this morning, “you did that yourself, buddy.”

As I read the article, I remembered when Todd first told me about the lawsuit in 2008. We were sitting at a sushi restaurant in Santa Monica, and he mentioned it very matter-of-fact. There was a dispute with the wedding photographer and, while trying to resolve the issue, things just escalated. The owner, Dan Fried, was not conceding anything; in fact, he was aggressively going after Todd, almost calling his bluff for a refund.

As Todd and Dan are roughly the same age, both made a nice living, and, from the looks of things, both are good little boys from well-respected and prominent Jewish families, I’m sure there was a bit of pride involved for both parties. Conceding even an inch was admitting defeat. What resulted was one part pride and one part hubris. The ensuing stand-off reminds me of the joke about the new Chinese Jewish restaurant in New York called “So Su Me.”

My response to Todd at the time was “drop it.” You don’t need this. You’re going through a divorce, and the settlement is going to be into the six figures, and this dispute with the photographer represents 1 to 2 percent of your divorce settlement. You’re a financial analyst. How could anyone see this as a good example?

Friends don’t let friends… file ridiculous lawsuits? Alas, Remis did not follow Greene’s advice:

“It’s not about the money,” he told me. “I don’t care about the $4,000. It’s about the principle; he should have resolved the issue, but instead he went after me. I’m using a lawyer from my dad’s firm, and we’re going to sue. I’m sure it will just get settled. Why would anyone want this to go to court?”

Indeed. Especially if you’re the plaintiff, Todd Remis.

This does go to show the risks inherent in filing a weak lawsuit mainly for the purpose of extracting a settlement. If the other side calls your bluff and refuses to settle, you could end up trying to prosecute a protracted, expensive, and embarrassing lawsuit. See, e.g., Roy Pearson (the administrative law judge who sued his dry cleaners for millions over a lost pair of pants — and ended up losing not just his lawsuit, but also his job).

Todd Greene offers a somewhat half-hearted defense of Todd Remis near the end of his post:

I do fault Todd on making a bad decision. We all make bad decisions, and hindsight is 20/20. Unfortunately Todd’s situation became the perfect media storm. I know Todd never wanted to restage the wedding, especially not to Milena, whom I knew well but who seemed ill-suited to married life with my friend….

I feel bad for Todd because the press has taken the ball and run with it. No one has published his side of the story or, at least, the facts. Having read the lawsuit yesterday, I don’t see any mention of actually recreating the wedding, only the dollar amount associated with it.

It’s not in the complaint, but according to the Times, Remis testified as follows during his deposition: “I need to have the wedding recreated exactly as it was so that the remaining 15 percent of the wedding that was not shot can be shot.”

In any event, these words by Greene are surely correct: “Todd has a case against Dan Fried for breach of contract, and it’s going to see its day in court. I think it would be great if both Todd and Dan could get out of their fathers’ shadows, see the light, and get on with things that really matter. In a case like this, there is no winner.”

Todd Remis: Lawsuit-Crazed Groomzilla? [Huffington Post]
If He Could Turn Back Time… If He Could Find A Way [Dealbreaker]

Earlier: Got an Absurd Wedding Lawsuit? Don’t Worry, Daddy’s a Biglaw Partner

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