UPDATED with more details: Keep it moving. That’s the in-so-many-words request of the judge in the long-running, real-life courtroom drama between AMC and former The Walking Dead exec producer Frank Darabont.
With both sides claiming a victory today — in the battle, if certainly not the war — lawyers for AMC told New York Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten that they’ll be filing a motion for permission to file yet more papers in their ongoing battle with Darabont and CAA over hundreds of millions of dollars in profits he and the agency claim they are owed.
While noting that she was not ordering any sort of a stay in the case — a comment Team Darabont/CAA claimed as a victory for its side — neither could the judge prohibit AMC from filing their motion. AMC attorneys said they will do so by March 7.
The additional papers would respond to a new, $10 million lawsuit filed against the channel last month, the second and much smaller suit filed by Darabont and CAA against AMC for Walking Dead profits. Although AMC’s lawyers said in court that they are not seeking to halt the original case, any upcoming additional motions could theoretically prompt at least some delays in the ongoing litigation.
But it was Darabont and CAA, insisted AMC attorney Orin Snyder, who tossed a “monkey wrench” into the now four-year-old legal battle by filing the second suit, which would add an additional $10 million to the $280 million in profits that Darabont and CAA claimed in the 2013 case are owed them.
The two lawsuits filed against AMC will most likely be consolidated into one case — both sides seem to agree on that — but the additional $10 million complaint should not be an excuse to drag things out, Darabont’s team argued.
“We are not seeking to dismiss or delay” the original case and the request for summary judgments, countered Snyder, while arguing that the January lawsuit introduces new “material facts” that contradict arguments made previously by the Darabont/CAA team — a point disputed by the plaintiffs.
But new material facts or not, the judge seemed in no mood for delays or stays. “I’m not staying anything,” Bransten said, while also noting that her docket is already booked through May.
Both sides have asked for summary judgments, with a trial long expected to begin sometime this year before Bransten retires. CAA and Darabont claim AMC ripped them off for hundreds of millions in profit participations.
Last month, Darabont and CAA filed the new, separate $10 million action claiming AMC had “attempted to hide evidence related to its self-dealing” during the original case’s discovery phase. That evidence, Darabont’s team says, came to light only after TWD creator and EP Robert Kirkman filed his own lawsuit against the channel last August and his contract became public record.
With the newly attained knowledge of Kirkman’s financials, as well as information from a separate audit of the show’s revenue, Darabont and CAA filed the additional $10 million suit last month, drawing quick condemnation from AMC attorney Snyder, who called the new suit a “heads I win, tails you lose” strategy, an “attempt to retry the case all over again.”
“This Court should immediately halt proceedings in this case, rather than rule on the pending cross-motions for summary judgment,” Snyder said in a January letter to Bransten.
Absolutely not, countered the plaintiffs, with attorney Jerry Bernstein arguing that AMC “offered the Court no compelling reason whatsoever for halting the Court’s determination of the motions for summary judgment in this four-year-old case, which the parties – and the Court – have invested countless hours toward resolving.”
“The truth is I can’t stop you from doing a motion to consolidate,” Bransten told Snyder today. “But it is a distraction.”