UPDATE, 11:40 AM: Well, ITV America wasted no time today responding to Scott and Deirdre Gurney’s $100 million and more breach of contract lawsuit against them that was filed Tuesday.
“Though this filing comes as no surprise as the Gurneys attempt to salvage their reputation, ITV absolutely refutes all of the allegations in this claim as completely baseless and without merit,” a spokesperson for the company told Deadline soon after the founders of the production company behind Duck Dynasty filed their complaint over being fired and sued themselves by the company late last year. “We will be vigorously pursuing the lawsuit we filed against Scott and Deirdre Gurney in December, following the termination of their employment, on the grounds of self-dealing, fraudulent concealment and breach of contract.”
“Emmy-winning producer Craig Armstrong was appointed interim CEO of Gurney Productions in December and has the full ground support of ITV America’s senior team,” the ITV America response added. “Under his leadership, all Gurney Productions shows and development continue to be produced by the company’s strong team of producers. It’s very much business as usual and our brilliant production team remains focused on making and delivering great shows.”
PREVIOUS, 11:26 AM: As expected, the founders of the production company behind Duck Dynasty today legally struck back at being pinked slipped from Gurney Productions and being hit with a fraud and breach of contract lawsuit by new owners ITV America last month.
Seeking damages of $100 million plus more in punitive damages and control back over their company, Scott and Deirdre Gurney allege that ITV and fellow defendants execs Brent Montgomery, Andrew Garard and David McGraynor tried to pull off a plan to grab their interest in the company at rock bottom prices and bully them out of the way.The seven-claim jury trial seeking filing from the Gurneys and their Little Win company alleges breach of contract and invasion of privacy, among more.
“The actions taken by ITV and its appointed board members are reprehensible,” said the Gurneys’ main attorney Michael Weinsten of Lavely & Singer in a statement Tuesday of the complaint filed in LA Superior Court (read it here) “My clients will not be intimidated by their outrageous, strong-arm tactics to acquire my client’s interest in Gurney Productions at a massively discounted price. We will hold each of these defendants personally accountable for the many millions in economic damages to my clients, and damage to their good name and reputation.”
“On December 5, 2016, ITV lured the Gurneys to a Board meeting in Sherman Oaks (far from the Gurney Productions offices, where meetings were typically held) with a fake “agenda” signaling business as usual, the 28-page complaint says. “Once there, ITV’ s appointed Board members ambushed the Gurneys with false accusations of impropriety (not previously disclosed), threats of termination and outright extortion -all targeted to the unlawful end of forcing the Gurneys to sell at an outrageously low price.”
“With full confidence that they had done nothing wrong, the Gurneys refused to succumb to Defendants’ strong-arm tactics and left the meeting,” the complaint continues of how things went down and legally south between the colleagues. “Less than two hours later, Defendants made good on their threats as multiple media outlets began reporting the alleged ‘fraud’ by the Gurneys. In fact, there was no fraud, and Defendants knew this.”
And that’s where the lawsuits that brought us to today started flying.
ITV America are represented by lawyers from the DC and SF offices of Squire Patton Boggs, LLP plus Paul Salvaty and Poopak Nourafchan of LA’s Hogan Lovells.