That’s the second Avatar legal loss in a row for Eric Ryder and another win for James Cameron. Three weeks after LA Superior Court Judge Susan Bryant-Deason granted the director’s motion for summary judgment, Ryder’s efforts to have her dismissed from the case have now also failed. Ryder wanted the judge pulled from the case because her husband is a line producer who has worked on Fox projects such as We Bought A Zoo. The plaintiff claimed in a 2011 complaint that Cameron ripped off the 2009 blockbuster from an environmental themed story of his entitled K.R.Z. 2068. Ryder said that execs at Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment had read the story back in the ’90s. Having taken a hit in early October in the case, two weeks ago Ryder’s lawyers alleged a lack of impartiality on the part of Bryant-Deason. Funny thing is Fox aren’t even a defendant in the suit, only Cameron and Lightstorm are. On October 23, the court gave tossed Ryder’s latest maneuver too. “A party simply can’t wait to see what happens in a case, before deciding to investigate or assert known facts as a basic for disqualification for cause. By not filing a timely motion to disqualify, objections to the assigned judge are waived,” wrote Bryant-Deason herself in the 11-page order (read it here). Beside Fox not being an actual party to the case, the judge also noted that she told all parties back in an April 24th status conference that her husband Paul Deason has worked as an independent contractor on films for Fox and other studios and no one raised any objection then.
Avatar has been on a bit of a legal roll lately against copyright charges from various directions. In February, Cameron won a case against Gerald Morawski, who accused Cameron of ripping off his ideas for the pic. Among the lawsuits pending though is Bryant Moore’s $2.5 billion lawsuit against Cameron and Fox claiming that Avatar was stolen from his scripts. A federal judge in March granted a motion to dismiss the breach of implied contract claim in Moore’s 2011 suit but he did not dismiss Moore’s copyright claims. That trial date is pending.
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