Michael Avenatti has recently entered the spotlight for this position as the outspoken lawyer in Stormy Daniels’ case against President Donald Trump, but it turns out he’s no stranger to working with well-known people. Back in 2013, Avenatti purchased Seattle-based coffee chain Tully’s Coffee with none other than actor Patrick Dempsey (A.K.A. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy).
Both he and Dempsey initially got involved with the business back in 2009 when it was struggling to find funds. Dempsey’s interest stemmed from the fact that Grey’s was based in Seattle, and after meeting Avenatti due to a mutual interest in race-car driving, the lawyer pledged to finance their Tully’s venture.
The partnership didn’t last long, though. Dempsey even sued Avenatti in 2013, alleging that instead of financing the coffee chain as promised, Avenatti borrowed against Tully’s assets. The case was eventually settled out of court, and after ending his professional relationship with both Avenatti and Tully’s, Dempsey wished them “all the best.”
In the years following, Tully’s became the central figure in a slew of legal battles. According to Business Insider, the chain’s parent company has faced more than 45 lawsuits, and as of 2017, owed about $5 million in unpaid taxes. Just this past March, all of the coffee chain’s locations abruptly closed.
Avenatti alleges that he no longer owns Tully’s; however, Business Insider reported that he’s still listed as sole “governing person” for Global Baristas, which owns Tully’s. “Avenatti said he sold his stake in Tully’s before the chain’s downward spiral over the past year, telling The Washington Post in late March he had made a profit by selling his piece of the firm at an undefined time,” Business Insider said. “Now, he says he essentially acts as the company’s general counsel.”
Others — including David Nold, a Seattle lawyer familiar with Tully’s legal battles — aren’t convinced of Avenatti’s claims that he’s only operating as an outside attorney. He cited a 2017 court filing in which Avenatti stated he was the “owner.”
Regardless of who says what, the story surrounding Tully’s isn’t likely to go away soon, especially since Avenatti will remain in the spotlight so long as Daniels is waging a case against Trump.