In a case that had as many ups and downs as the tide off the coast of the 50th state, CBS and the estate of Hawaii Five-0 creator Leonard Freeman were handed a victory today in the $100 million lawsuit by talent agent George Litto. “The Court grants judgment in favor of CBS and the Freeman Parties with respect to the Third Amended Complaint,” said LA Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White today in a proposed statement of decision (read it here). The network’s official response today was a simple “Mahalo” to the end of the 2-year case. The LA Superior Court judge’s decision comes after a very short trial earlier this month in the long-festering litigation. Litto was the agent of Freeman, who created the original Hawaii Five-0 that ran from 1968-80, passed away in 1974. His initial May 2012 lawsuit against the estate sought $10 million in punitive damages and a big swell of the shares of the profits from the reboot version of the Hawaii-set cop show, which CBS brought back in 2010. The new Hawaii Five-O wrapped its fourth season on May 9 and will be back for another cycle in the fall, free of this case.
The talent agent claimed that Freeman’s heirs and the network connived to keep him out of negotiations for the new Five-O. Litto also said that after Freeman’s death, he and the producer’s widow Rose came to an agreement that gave him significant rights in connection with future versions of the series.
This all looked to be over back in March when a settlement was reached between the estate and Litto. That, however, fell through, and the trial went ahead. That deal collapsing was just one of many tumbles for CBS after the network was pulled into the suit in fall 2012. CBS was let go from the case in January 2013 and then pulled back in again in separate rulings last September and November.
While there could be an appeal from Litto’s lawyers, for the time being, the legal sea is calm around Hawaii Five-O for now.