EXCLUSIVE: Judge Judy concluded shooting her long-running syndicated series earlier this year, but her efforts to shut down a $5 million lawsuit against her and CBS over profits from the lucrative sale of the daytime courtroom reality shows’ library came up short Friday.
Both sides, however, are determined to fight on all the way to trial.
In what was the latest turn at the time in the battle over the big bucks from Judge Judy the series, in August Rebel Entertainment Partners sued former Manhattan family court judge Judy Sheindlin and a ViacomCBS division for millions over the seemingly sleight-of-hand $95 million sale of Judge Judy’s past shows a few years back, when Les Moonves was still lording over CBS.
At a short hearing today in Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Patricia Nieto confirmed her tentative ruling of yesterday denying Sheindlin’s demurrer on multiple causes of action in the nearly year-long matter. The essence of the now stunted-move was the argument that plaintiff Rebel Entertainment Partners “has no standing to sue on this contract as a third-party beneficiary,” as Nieto’s order explains (read the minute order here).
Rebel is the “successor in interest” to Judge Judy original packager, talent agent Richard Lawrence and his Abrams, Rubaloff & Lawrence firm. The plaintiffs have been a longtime legal thorn in Sheindlin’s paw, to put it mildly, in their pursuit of profit participation payouts and more.
Rebel attorney Bryan Freedman, who helped score a big big departure payoff for now former Bachelor franchise host Chris Harrison earlier this week, is already looking forward to the next round.
“In March, Judge Judy’s frivolous lawsuit against Rebel and Richard Lawrence was dismissed after the judge properly found that she lacked standing to sue,” the Freedman + Taitelman partner told Deadline. “Ironically, Judy then asserted that Rebel lacked standing to sue her. The Court has correctly rejected this meritless argument. CBS and Judy have intentionally ignored the rights of the profit participants that made their success possible. That behavior will not be tolerated.”
Sheindlin herself was unreserved in responding to today’s ruling.
“Richard Lawrence has garnered 22 plus million dollars although I have seen him only once in an elevator since our program began 25 years ago,” she told Deadline.” I look forward to a trial.”
CBS had no comment on today’s ruling or the matter overall.
Having been pushed from its original May 10 date to today, the virtual hearing did not set a trial date in the matter, though that could come soon-ish, I hear.
The ruling also follows Sheindlin in late March shutting down her own $22 million action against Lawrence and Rebel because protocol demanded she add CBS as a defendant – which she refused to do. The decision by Sheindlin to not file a required amended complaint was prompted by L.A. Superior Court Judge Richard Burdge significantly slicing the sails of Judge Judy’s original complaint on February 24.
With all that, and at the slow rate this case is moving as courts in general are reopening out of the pandemic, it could be a whole new world Judy-wise by the time any said trial actually begins.
After 25 years, the last original Judge Judy airs in late July, with a more recent bit of an exit dustup with CBS over Sheindlin feeling she was “disrespected.” Still, Sheindlin has apparently received a boatload of respect from Amazon Studios and its IMDb TV. She will be returning to the small screen with successor series, Judy Justice, online later this year.
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