EXCLUSIVE: QED may have taken their former CEO to court on April 1, but the Fury producer is determined to see any dispute handled in arbitration and stop his old company’s legal tactics cold. “In contrast to QED’s specious claims, Mr. Block has significant legitimate claims against QED and against his former lawyer, Josh Grode,” Block’s attorney Marty Singer told Deadline today. “It is our intention to have QED’s lawsuit dismissed and to have the issues included as part of the existing arbitration,” he added, citing the provisions of Block’s employment contract. That contract was signed in 2012 by the producer when QED Holdings was created out of the assets of Block’s decade-old QED International.
Bill Block Slams 'Ridiculous' QED Infringement Lawsuit
“The only one who has any valid claims in the dispute between Bill Block and QED is Bill Block,” adds the Lavely & Singer lawyer of his client and the company co-run by Sasha Shapiro and Anton Lessine. “The parties entered into an enforceable settlement agreement in December 2014, but after doing so, QED attempted to renegotiate that deal. When Mr. Block refused to capitulate to QED’s absurd request to change the deal, QED filed a meritless arbitration demand. Thereafter, QED again demanded that Mr. Block modify the agreed settlement terms. After QED had already been paid over $600,000 under the settlement that it had agreed to, Mr. Block again refused to change the deal, which then resulted in the ridiculous lawsuit that was filed by QED last week,” says Singer. “Bill Block will be fully vindicated in this arbitration and in his dispute with QED.”
“We believe we will be vindicated in both the arbitration and the federal lawsuit,” said QED’s lead attorney Steven Marenberg of Irell & Manella LLP on Monday. Calling claims of the December 2014 settlement agreement “a joke,” Marenberg added, “in the months that followed the supposed settlement, the parties continued to negotiate the terms of the agreement and failed to reach an final agreement.”
According to documents Deadline has seen, that agreement is one of the focal points of the counterclaims and cross-claims Block filed in the arbitration late last week citing breach of contract and interference with economic relations. This submission comes about two weeks after QED started the arbitration process and almost immediately after the company filed their infringement lawsuit in federal court.
The counterclaim and cross-claims mentions Shapiro and Lessine, seen in the photo on the left, as personally receiving $4 million in management fees from 2012-2014 even with shortfalls at QED, a company that has seen a number of personnel besides Block leave in recent months. Lessine’s father is Mikhail Lesin, the former media chief for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also ran the state-controlled Gazprom-Media.
As well as assertions of claims on the Robert De Niro starrer Dirty Grandpa, the counterclaim by Block also reveals that the vet producer and financier is seeking to have the Separation Agreement between himself and QED Holdings deemed valid and enforceable. However, it won’t be a totally clean break: Block is also pursuing damages against Shapiro and Lessine’s company for the fallout he says their lawsuit caused him professionally and personally.
In fact, claims in the QED lawsuit seem a little behind the times before the matter was even filed. Among the specific allegations contained in the sometimes-vague April 1 complaint is that Block put $1 million he received from Chinese investors into a Bruce Lee biopic in an account he controlled when the rights belonged to QED. Not only is that rights allegation in some dispute, but those funds were returned to Kylin Films in March, sources confirm.
Also, if The Birth of The Dragon feature goes forward, it will be as a QED and Kylin project without Block’s participation.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.