Just hours before AMC Networks took Wall Street by surprise this morning with stronger than expected first quarter results, lawyers for the small screen home of The Walking Dead took a potentially game changing Negan sized swing at Frank Darabont and CAA’s nearly $300 million lawsuit against the cabler over profits from the zombie apocalypse series.
Following up on the latest April 19 hearing in the almost five-year running case, AMC’s Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher attorneys now want the long-awaited summary judgement ruling tossed aside and a jury convened under the laws of the Empire State to sort out what they say are “material fact disputes.” Despite the trench warfare tactics employed in the case, a decision or decisions from New York Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten was presumed to be coming in the next few weeks based on summary judgement arguments made in person in September by lawyers for both sides. Now depending on how a scheduled June 13 hearing on AMC’s latest motion goes, that presumption could go out the window along with the soon-to-be retiring Bransten – which might be the time tactic AMC is pursuing.
“Plaintiff’s new complaint has thrown this case into disarray,” asserts AMC’s now main lawyer Orin Snyder over the citing the additional $10 million filing that the ex-TWD showrunner and the uberagency unleashed on the media company back in January. That surprise action was based on what CAA and Darabont’s attorneys at NYC’s Blank Rome LLP and Santa Monica’s Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP said was a more revealing reading of creator Robert Kirkman’s lucrative profit participation deal with the network.
All of which has jacked up the already high volume on the overall suit the 2011 fired TWD EP and CAA initially filed in December 2013 with renewed calls for sanctions, accusations of frivolity and delaying tactics as the summary judgment ruling looms – or not, as now could be the case.
“Today’s filing shows that CAA’s two lawsuits are based on contradictory and convoluted claims that must be decided by a jury,” Snyder reiterated to Deadline about the modified adjust gross receipts based dust-up in a statement Thursday after the filing was made in the darken hours of the AM.
Cool your jets buddy, say CAA and Darabont’s side.
“This is just another desperate attempt by AMC to take Justice Bransten out of the equation and push this case even further into the future,” retorts Chad Fitzgerald, Partner at Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP, and Plaintiffs’ Counsel.”It is a retread of old arguments, and we are confident Justice Bransten will see through AMC’s tactics,” the lawyer adds. “Justice Bransten gave AMC an opportunity to supplement the record before she decides both motions for summary judgment. AMC is so eager to save face that they now ask for the case to be heard by a jury, conceding that their own summary judgment motion must be denied.”
“The contradiction could not be more stark,” still asserts AMC’s supplemental memorandum of law regarding summary judgement, which came with a boatload of exhibits- many of which have already been entered in the forest devastation suit (read it here). “In one case they want the MAGR Document torn up so they can make more money; in the other they want it to govern so they can make more money,” the 20-page fling declares.
“This new argument depends on another person’s contract (Robert Kirkman’s) and another provision of Darabont’s contract (the most favored nation clause),” the paperwork goes on to say in often repetitive terms and tactics. “Plaintiffs argue that Kirkman’s contract gives him a better deal than Darabont’s, and so Darabont should get the better deal through the most favored nation clause. That argument is fundamentally flawed and inconsistent with Plaintiffs’ argument in Case #1.”
“Plaintiffs’ new complaint, which creates a material fact issue about the MAGR Document, dooms their summary judgment argument,” says the supplemental on one of many occasions in case the judge, the other side or others following the corporately juicy case haven’t quite picked up what AMC are legally trying to put down.
Besides the arguments that CAA and Darabont’s legal beagles have and will make, this whole matter has taken on a harsher edge for AMC with similar accusations coming from what was once unexpected quarters.
In a somewhat redeeming legal action last summer from Kirkman, fellow EP Gale Anne Hurd, plus Glen Mazzara — who was pink-slipped himself suddenly as TWD showrunner in 2012 — and others over profits that the Shawshank Redemption director’s former TWD co-workers say they were shell gamed out of too. too have been shafted. While the plaintiffs who are still working on the on-going TWD series and its spinoffs have pledged to take a church and state approach with AMC over the lawsuit and production, the fact that Kirkman inked a big new overall deal with Amazon last year was certainly not a vote of confidence in doing business with the cabler.
By the way, after having dalliance with various firms, including one led by Donald Trump’s attorney Marc Kasowitz, I hear that AMC has now unequivocally put Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Snyder and the formable Scott Edelman in place as their counsel. So, see them in court next month trying to get Justice Bransten to grant them their statutory wishes – or not.