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Leon Black accuser“s law firm says it was fired, seeks to withdraw


The law firm representing a former Russian model who accused Apollo Global Management Inc co-founder Leon Black of raping her said it has been fired, and asked a judge to let it formally withdraw from the case.

According to a Wednesday filing in a New York state court in Manhattan, Guzel Ganieva terminated Wigdor LLP’s representation on Tuesday, and intends to represent herself.

Jeanne Christensen, a Wigdor partner, said there had been an “irrevocable breakdown of the attorney-client relationship” that justified the firm’s withdrawal.

She did not provide specifics, citing attorney-client confidentiality, but said Ganieva would have “ample time” to prepare for any trial, which is likely more than a year away.

Ganieva is a law school graduate, Christensen added.

Efforts to reach Ganieva on Thursday were not immediately successful. Christensen declined additional comment.

Ganieva sued Black in June 2021, saying the billionaire defamed her by falsely claiming she tried to extort him after accusing him of rape.

Black has denied that the rape occurred, and said Ganieva breached a nondisclosure agreement about what he has called their “consensual” six-year affair ending around 2014.

Susan Estrich, a lawyer for Black, in a statement declined to comment on the Wigdor firm’s withdrawal. She maintained that Ganieva’s accusations against Black were “demonstrably false.”

The Wigdor firm still represents another woman, Cheri Pierson, in her lawsuit accusing Black of raping her two decades ago in late financier Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan. Estrich has called that lawsuit “baseless.”

The case is Ganieva v. Black, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 155262/2021.

For Ganieva: Jeanne Christensen, at Wigdor

For Black: Susan Estrich, at Estrich Goldin

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