Dinesh D’Souza says legal action by a fellow producer of the anti-Obama film 2016: Obama’s America claiming that he misappropriated money and broke contracts “contains many false statements.” The author and 2016 co-director was responding to a filing this week by Douglas Sain, credited as a producer of the political documentary, one of two lawsuits filed related to the film. Plaintiff Sain Communications says its civil complaint (read it here) was filed “in an effort to force D’Souza to comply with his contractual obligations to the members of [production company Obama’s America Foundation], and to stop D’Souza from abusing and exceeding his management authority in the company for his own financial benefit.” A hearing was held this afternoon in San Diego on the matter. Lawyers for Sain and D’Souza appeared in front of Judge Kevin Enright. Sain’s lawyers are seeking, as stated in their suit, a temporary restraining order against D’Souza over access to funds and other aspects of OAF business dealings. The judge said he would issue a written ruling at a later date. Sain and D’Souza formed OAF with Christopher Williams in 2011 to make the film, which has grossed more than $33 million at the box office, making it the second-most-successful domestic political documentary ever. It has also been a bestseller since its recent Lionsgate-distributed DVD release. “I have never diverted any money from any bank account belonging to OAF,” said D’Souza in a four-page declaration (read it here). Williams is credited with D’Souza and John Sullivan as executive producers on the film. Sain is credited as producer with Schindler’s List’s producer Gerald Molen
D’Souza claims he wants to settle the disputed matters with his former producing partner — just not with the injunctions and declarations Sain desires. “We need the arbitrator to be appointed promptly to resolve these issues so that we can be sure that vendors and lenders are paid,” says D’Souza in his response. In his action, Sain also claims D’Souza has tried to illegally take control of the production company. In trying to buy Williams out, says Sain’s complaint, D’Souza is in violation of the rights agreements the two had with him over the film. That agreement gave D’Souza 50% ownership of the film and splits the remainder between Sain and Williams. D’Souza says that agreement was amended to give him 62.5% of the rights, with Sain keeping 25% and Williams’ claim reduced to 12.5%.
Neither D’Souza’s lawyer James Burgess of LA firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton nor the plaintiff’s lawyer David King of San Diego’s King Law Group responded to requests for comment.
In a separate suit (read it here), 2016 investors are seeking profits from D’Souza’s bestselling book Obama’s America: Unmasking The American Dream. The Nevada-based Rancho Esperanza investment group claims that the author has received more that $1 million from the film already but that he owes them all revenus from the book because it relies heavily on material from the documentary. Rancho Esperanza’s unnamed investors say in their suit that they own the intellectual rights to 2016. The book was released on August 13, over a month after the documentary was released and a week before its run was widened to 1,100 theaters. The October 22-filed complaint also seeks a TRO against D’Souza’s involvement with OAF and funds related to the company. Lawyer Joe Leventhal was also in court today before Judge Enright with lawyers from the Sain case.