Verdict

Court: Los Angeles County, Superior Court

Courthouse: Los Angeles County Superior Court- Central District- Central Arraignment Courts

Verdict Type: Verdict (phase 1), bench decision (phase 2)

Verdict Amount: $80 million

Verdict Value: $80 million

Case:

Case Name: Foxcroft Productions, Inc. et al. Vs. Universal City Studios LLC

Case Number: BC683206

Filing Date: 11/14/2017

Plaintiffs: Foxcroft Productions, Inc. and Fairmount Productions, Inc.

Attorneys for Plaintiffs:

  • Lead Trial Counsel: Alton G. Burkhalter
    Current Title: Partner

  • Trial counsel: Daniel J. Kessler
    Current Title: Partner

  • Trial counsel: Keith E. Butler
    Current Title: Senior Associate

About the Case: This is a Hollywood accounting case. Plaintiffs are the "loan out" companies of the creators of the television series "Columbo" which aired on NBC between 1971 and 1978 and on ABC between 1988 and 2003. Plaintiffs were entitled to 10% of the net profits from the series. Despite the fact that Columbo generated over $700 million in gross receipts, Defendant Universal never shared any profits with Plaintiffs until late 2016, and never provided Plaintiffs with any profit participation accounting statements prior to late 2016. The case proceeded to trial on a single breach of contract claim. Following four days of preliminary hearings, the court divided the trial into three phases. In phase one, the issues of whether Defendant was entitled to deduct studio (as opposed to third party) "Distribution Fees" and whether Plaintiffs were barred by the statute of limitations was presented to the jury. After a seven day jury trial, the jury deliberated less than 90 minutes before returning 12-0 unanimous verdicts in Plaintiffs' favor. Phase 2 was a bench trial, following which the court entered further rulings that Plaintiffs were entitled to share in 100% of home video revenue, and that Plaintiffs were entitled to prejudgment interest. Plaintiffs estimate the value of the jury verdict and bench decision to be $80 million. Phase 3 is being referred to a panel of three accounting referees who will issue a recommendation on the remaining issues no later than July 15, 2019, and the court set a hearing date of August 8, 2019 to consider the accounting referees' recommendations and to enter judgment.