A nearly seven-year lawsuit over profits from the Oscar-winning Crash finally might be putting on the brakes. Late last week, a three-judge appeals court panel found in favor of the 2004 film’s director/co-writer Paul Haggis, co-writer/producer Bobby Moresco, producer Mark Harris and actor Brendan Fraser and concurred with a December 2011 lower court ruling that awarded the four $12 million. “In a bench trial the court found for the plaintiffs and awarded them over $12,000,000 in damages and prejudgment interest,” the 2nd Appellate Court said in its January 31 ruling (read it here). “We conclude that appellants have not carried their burden of showing prejudicial error, and we therefore affirm,” Judges Frances Rothschild, Jeffrey Miller and Victoria Chaney added. Since its wide release on May 6, 2005, Crash — which won Best Picture and two other Academy Awards — has made more than $98 million worldwide.
Haggis and crew sued Crash producer Bob Yari’s Persik Productions in late November 2007 over $10 million they claimed they were owed. In the 17-page ruling last week, Persik was called out for claiming it couldn’t originally pay the funds due to the four because it had to pay some investors first. “The contract between Haggis and Persik shows that, at the time it was executed, the parties intended that Haggis’ participation payments would be based on all gross receipts of the film,” said last week’s ruling. “We reach this conclusion because there can be no doubt that this would be the result if Apollo (Germany company and investor ApolloProScreen Filmproduktion) had never appeared on the scene.”
Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley’s Terry Anastassiou, Arent Fox and Richard Charnley represented Haggis and the other plaintiffs. Behzad Nahai, and Edward Wei of LA firm Nahai Law Group represented Persik in the appeal. Yari personally was represented by attorney S. Thomas Todd of Encino firm Horvitz & Levy LLP.