The legal battle between Legendary Pictures and producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison over the Godzilla reboot seems more and more certain to be headed to trial. “We’re not interested in arbitration, we want a jury to hear this case”, said the producers’ lawyer Stanton L. Stein in a hearing today in LA Superior Court. With his clients Lee and Lin looking on, Stein made clear that a jury trial is still his goal despite an agreement today by all parties to pursue mediation. “I understand why they don’t want public scrutiny of this case. I understand why they don’t want their behavior being made public”, he added of Legendary’s efforts to have the case moved to private arbitration.
Back in January dueling suits were filed between the producers and Legendary after the studio sought to remove them from the project with a tiny $25,000 payout. The trio countered with a cross complaint January 17 accusing Legendary of breach of contract. Lin, Lee and Davison are seeking millions in compensatory damages, screen credit, and participation in sequels, prequels, or further remakes. As this legal tussle continues, Godzilla is currently in production in Vancouver with the movie set for a May 16, 2014 release.
Today’s appearance by Stein and lawyers for Legendary in front of Judge Abraham Khan resulted in the case moving to mediation for the time being. This came after Khan rejected a motion by the studio to have the big-ticket case taken to arbitration. “The Court finds that opposing parties never impliedly or otherwise consented to the written arbitration provisions, based upon the substantial evidence filed in opposition,” wrote Khan in a ruling today. Said Legandary’s main lawyer Dale Kinsella in a statement after the hearing ended: “The judge’s decision has no bearing on the merits of the parties’ respective claims, and Legendary remains confident that it will prevail in the case.”
Kinsella was not in court today. Legendary was repped by Gregory Korn of Kinsella Weitzman Kump & Aldisert. Both parties agreed today to settle on a mediator and start talks soon afterward. The parties have until September 13 to conduct the mediation and are expected back in court September 27 to state whether they have a deal or not.