In the often blood drenched vein of “if at first you don’t succeed, pummel, pummel again,” AMC today took another stab at killing off a pivotal court ruling in Frank Darabont and CAA’s nearly $300 million long running lawsuit over profits from The Walking Dead.
“Plaintiffs’ ever-changing factual and legal positions have hopelessly confused this litigation and have made summary judgment in their favor plainly inappropriate,” a filing by the home of the zombie apocalypse series in New York Supreme Court asserted on Tuesday. “The genuine issues of fact and law created by Plaintiffs’ various filings require resolution by a jury,” added AMC’s five-page supplemental reply memorandum of law (read it here).
The filing and an accompanying letter to Justice Eileen Bransten from AMC’s Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher attorneys come less than two weeks before a June 13 hearing on the cabler’s motion to axe the summary judgement ruling in the case. First filed in December 2013 by The Shawshank Redemption director, who was canned as TWD showrunner in 2011, and the uberagency, a succulent document dump on both sides last summer was followed by summary judgment arguments by the brawling lawyers for the plaintiffs and defendants in September 2017.
“AMC has once again flouted the Court’s orders by filing a desperate, last-minute reply brief in hopes of bolstering its argument that CAA’s/Darabont’s summary judgment should not be granted,” said the plaintiffs’ lead counsel Dale Kinsella in response to today’s move by the defendants. “This filing readily ignores Justice Bransten’s unequivocal order that no such briefing would be allowed. Worse, the brief itself does nothing more than, once again, mischaracterize the record and rehash AMC’s frivolous arguments.”
As both sides awaited a ruling from Justice Bransten, CAA and Darabont’s Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP attorneys hit AMC in January with another complaint for $10 million based on a probing examination of TWD creator Robert Kirkman’s lucrative profit participation deal with cabler – which is what AMC now proclaims has totally muddied the already murky waters.
Having cleaned house a bit and shifted tactical gears, AMC brought attorney Orin Snyder on board earlier this year to play hardball in what had become a case of a public bloodletting by a thousand court filings. Last month, Donald Trump’s long time lawyer Marc Kasowitz and his pals at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP formally exited as counsel for the outlet after months of appearing to be stuck in quicksand. As TWD looks to lose star Andrew Lincoln in its upcoming ninth season, today’s paperwork by Snyder and Scott Edelman reinforced that take no prisoners approach that AMC is now pursuing.
“Just when it seemed like their arguments could not become any more convoluted and confusing, Plaintiffs have filed a brief taking yet a different position and creating yet more disputed fact issues,” the Snyder signed filing of Monday said. “Plaintiffs’ case has become a moving target,” the document noted.
In many ways, AMC are hoping for a repeat of sorts of the late April hearing where Judge Eileen Bransten granted their motion to be allowed to file supplemental materials attempting to cripple any summary judgement on the two lawsuits. Of course, among the many sharp cuts and invectives in this thorny matter, AMC were shived last summer when Kirkman, fellow EP Gale Anne Hurd, plus Glen Mazzara — who was fired suddenly as TWD showrunner in 2012 — and others also went after the cabler in court for millions and millions in profits that, they say, they too have been incorrectly denied.
Today, AMC walked past that aspect of The Walking Dead legal war and focused on tainting Darabont and CAA as seeking to move the goal posts.
“Now, for the very first time after years of litigation, Plaintiffs concede that the MAGR (modified adjusted gross receipts) Document is and always has been part of the parties’ contract,” AMC told the court today. “This is directly contrary to their previous argument that the MAGR Document is a ‘sham’ and should be disregarded. Plaintiffs’ striking about-face makes one thing perfectly clear—Plaintiffs are not entitled to summary judgment here.”
“Quite simply, Plaintiffs cannot obtain summary judgment on their interpretation of the contract when their interpretation keeps changing,” AMC summarize. “Only a jury can untangle the mess Plaintiffs have created.”
Raising the stakes for that June 13 hearing even more now for the soon to retire Justice Bransten, AMC are clearly going all – let’s see how that works out for the cabler and The Walking Dead.