CBS and Sony Pictures Television are facing a $30 million breach-of-contract lawsuit for allegedly failing to pay agreed-upon profits from the hit 1990s series Walker, Texas Ranger to its star Chuck Norris.
The lawsuit (read it here), filed Tuesday by Norris’ Top Kick Productions in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that CBS has failed to pay Norris via Top Kick, 23% “of the profits earned from any, and all, exploitation of Walker,” effective when CBS agreed to become the primary distributor of the series.
“Instead, CBS and Sony materially breached the contractual duties they owed to Mr. Norris and his company Top Kick,” the lawsuit alleges. “Specifically, the Defendants have consciously sought to market, sell and distribute Walker in ways that are designed to collect significant fees and revenues from the ongoing exploitation of Walker but without having to honor or pay Top Kick, and to instead materially breach the 23 Percent Profit Clause.”
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In the suit, Top Kick alleges that “CBS was among the networks that were fully aware of Chuck Norris’ success, history, brand and image, which resulted in CBS agreeing to become the primary distributor of Walker.”
The suit says the defendants breached this implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by, among other things, failing to account for and failing to pay Top Kick’s required revenue. In addition, the “Defendants have rejected, ignored and failed to consider offers from third parties who were willing to pay a premium license fee for Walker, because Defendants preferred to self-deal by negotiating special licensing deals, with minimal fees, with their own networks. This has cost Top Kick millions of dollars in past and future license fees.”
Deadline has reached out to CBS for comment.
Walker, Texas Ranger, starring Norris as a member of the Texas Ranger Division, aired for eight seasons on CBS from 1993-2001. The series has been broadcast in more than 100 countries and spawned the 2005 made-for-television movie Trial by Fire.
Attorneys Mark D. Baute and Scott J. Street of Baute Crochetiere & Hartley LLP in Los Angeles are representing Norris and Top Kick in the lawsuit.
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