(UPDATED WITH STATEMENT FROM GURNEYS’ LAWYER) A week after Scott and Deirdre Gurney looked poised to take back their Duck Dynasty producing company after ITV America gave them the boot last year, a few words from the court today knocked their house of cards down again.
In a verbal denial in a hearing Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the clerk for Judge Susan Byrant-Deason declined the couple’s attempt for an ex parta. If that move for a future hearing date had gone forward, the maneuver by the Gurneys’ attorneys would have seen the duo likely cleared to handle day-to-day activities of their company, currently run by ITV America appointees. As it right now, the two sides are at a stand-off over interpretations of the initial order by the LASC judge last week.
In that context, a notice of appeal filed March 22 by ITV continues the 72-hour stay of the preliminary mandatory injunction of March 20 that put the Gurneys back in as “day-to-day” executives running Gurney Productions after they were pink-slipped and sued for fraud in December. Having had a slew of claims thrown against them by ITV, the Gurneys countersued for $100 million and more in January, alleging they were shoved aside so ITV could snare the interest in the company it didn’t already own for a significantly lower price. ITV, which bought a 61.5% controlling interest in Gurney Productions in 2012 , have called that claim “baseless.”
And ITV had more to say today.
“We have held from the very beginning that we are extremely confident of success in the merits of our case,” a spokesperson told Deadline. “The amount of compelling evidence against the Gurneys continues to mount, beyond what was included in our initial filing, and we fully expect to win once the allegations of deceit, fraud and self-dealing by the Gurneys are exposed at a full trial. We are happy to be moving toward the discovery phase of the case.”
As did the other side.
“Nothing has changed from last week’s detailed 10-page opinion from the court which in granting a preliminary injunction against ITV found as to each and every claim alleged by ITV that the Gurneys are likely to prevail, including the court’s findings that they were terminated without good cause and that they remain the controlling managers of Gurney Productions,” said Gurneys attorney Phil Kelly, who was in court today.
As part of the original deal when ITV took over the the company five years ago, the Gurneys held the remaining interest, had two seats on the board, and ran day-to-day operations. With what was at first a leave of absence that quickly escalated under suspicion of violating non-compete agreements, the couple was fired and replaced in December, with Emmy-winning producer Craig Armstrong named interim CEO.