After looking like it was careening towards a trial next year, Warner Bros’ copyright battle with Demonologist author Gerald Brittle for nearly $1 billion over The Conjuring franchise has come to an end. Though the parties have reached a settlement in this matter, it seems that long time disgruntled producer Tony DeRosa-Grund has also been unveiled as the secret “mastermind” behind this latest legal attempt to grab ahold of the Conjuring ATM and the profits it seems to spew out over four films so far and more to come.
“Mr. Brittle is dismissing his lawsuit against New Line with prejudice, and the parties announced that in court on Monday,” said attorneys for the author and the WB division in a statement to Deadline today. “Mr. Brittle ‘realizes that filing this lawsuit was a mistake, and that New Line has no liability and did nothing wrong,’” they added of the infringement action taken by a wide spread rights claiming Brittle in late March. “The parties are working to resolve New Line’s counterclaims.”
In a hearing in federal court in Virginia on December 5, WB lawyer Matt Kline informed Judge John Gibney, Jr. that a “settlement was reached over the weekend.” As a part of the talks to make that deal, the O’Melveny & Myers attorney also told the court that they’ve discovered that “Mr. DeRosa-Grund has been running this litigation since day one.”
In apparently brazen disregard for previous restrictions on any more legal action over the very successful The Conjuring flicks and their Annabelle spinoffs, DeRosa-Grund not only conjured up out of thin air the $900 million figure that Brittle was seeking in his now abandoned effort at the $1.2 billion earning franchise but, as discovery and declarations have made clear, was pulling the strings without Brittle even being involved. “New Line has contended all along that DeRosa-Grund was the mastermind behind the Lawsuit, was controlling and directing the Lawsuit, and had attempted to enter into secret side deals with Brittle,” a December 8 notice of additional evidence from WB and New Line stated (read it here). “In the last week, New Line has received additional documents proving these points that were directly responsive to the subpoenas at issue that the Subpoenaed Parties failed to produce.”
“Mr. DeRosa-Grund has been controlling this Litigation from the start,” a clearly chagrinned Brittle admitted himself in a December 7 declaration that accompanied that notice. “Based on a review of text messages between Mr. DeRosa-Grund and my attorney, I understand that he even threatened my attorneys that if they sent information from me without him seeing it first they would be fired,” he said additionally. “When my attorney informed Mr. DeRosa-Grund that I was the client, and needed to approve discovery responses, Mr. DeRosa-Grund responded: ‘Good, then get Gerald the [sic] fucking Pay you’ and then stated ‘Oh yeah he doesn’t have a pot to piss [sic] and I for~ot.’
These revelations were partially behind a Texas judge today ordering a forensic examiner to “take possession of any: digital media device in the possession, custody or control of one or more of the Subpoenaed Parties, including but not limited to computers …mobile devices …tablets file servers, hard drives (internal or external) portable media …compact disks, floppy disks, tapes, and any other personal electronic devices” (read it here). The devices will be excavated for not only evidence pertained to the matter but signs of file erasing software or other attempt to bleach the digital stains, so to speak.
Long a legal thorn in WB’s paw, DeRosa-Grund is also expected to hand over access to personal email accounts as well as provide the documents he has previously been subpoenaed to hand over. Simply put, after years of being whacked by lawsuits by DeRosa-Grund, WB is leaving no stone unturned to end what has been a street corner litigation shell game gone amok.
A game that could once again prove pricey for DeRosa-Grund.
Called out as a “puppeteer” in a previous hearing in the Brittle case, DeRosa-Grund could end up owing over $1 million for using surrogates like the author to peck at WB. That potential payout is a result of DeRosa-Grund previous pledge in arbitration to not sue anymore and indemnify the studio against further claims and rights, including the ones that were affirmed to the the studio back in early 2015.
Representatives for DeRosa-Grund did not respond to request for comment from Deadline on these matters.
With all this action back East and down in the Lone Star state, both Brittle and the “fradulent” DeRosa-Grund, as he was called in one 2016 filing, face more arbitration here in LA in the new year, I’ve learned. So, with a third Conjuring flick in the pipeline, things are going to get even haunted – on and off the screen.