Rizor chosen for Bertelsmann suit

Media conglomerate Bertelsmann has appointed Osborne Clarke’s new German managing partner Stefan Rizor as part of its defence in a million-dollar lawsuit brought by two former employees

Bertelsmann needed a lawyer from a firm it had not previously used to call as its German legal expert in the case, ruling out much of the magic circle.

Rizor won a beauty parade conducted by in-house legal head Ulrich Koch. Loeb & Loeb is acting as US counsel, with partner Anthony Murray leading. The case will be heard in Santa Monica before a US jury, but will be conducted under German law.

Former new media entrepreneurs Jan Henric Buettner and Andreas Von Blottnitz are suing Bertelsmann for $3.5m (£2.2m) – the equivalent of the 49 per cent share they claim to be owed from Bertelsmann’s sale of its 50 per cent interest in AOL Europe in 2000. Buettner and Blottnitz are making the claim on the grounds that they introduced former Bertelsmann chief executive Thomas Middelhoff to America Online chairman Steve Case, and as a result the two company’s founded AOL Europe in 1995.

Rizor joked that he was chosen in part for his looks, as well as his legal expertise, and was assessed on his photograph on Osborne Clarke‘s website before the two-stage beauty contest. “They wanted a practitioner with court experience, good at explaining German legal matters to foreigners and good looking to impress the jury,” he said.

He hopes to win further instructions from Bertelsmann in the future.

Buettner and Blottnitz are understood to be represented by Klaus Burmeister of Burmeister & Associates in California.