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December 2020

Gordon & Rees Los Angeles Team Obtains Complete Defense Victory for Entertainment & Media Company

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Partners Gary LorchLaurie DeYoung and Senior Counsel Sonia Taylor obtained a complete defense victory on behalf of the firm's clients, an Entertainment and Media company and one of its Officers.  The matter centered around whether the production company entered into a binding agreement to produce and finance a movie project based on the parties’ preliminary negotiations including identification of the cast, budget, and location but which was never memorialized in a long form agreement. The case also involved claims that the firm's client had intentionally interfered with the claimant’s ability to obtain international distribution for the project, thereby impacting its ability to secure the financing necessary to proceed with production.  For a variety of reasons, the firm's client decided that the project was no longer feasible, and decided to not move forward on the film project.

The claimant initially filed suit in the Superior Court, setting forth claims for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of implied contact, promissory estoppel, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, intentional interference with contract and negligent interference with prospective economic relations. The Gordon & Rees team successfully compelled the case into arbitration, where the firm's clients countered with their own claim for declaratory relief. 

The claimant and its counsel were aggressive from the start. Shortly before commencement of the arbitration hearing, the claimant made a $4.7 million settlement demand, to which the Gordon & Rees team did not respond. The firm's clients were not interested in mediation and instructed counsel to proceed directly with the arbitration hearing. The hearing took place three months into the COVID-19 pandemic and proceeded via Zoom teleconferencing.

The hearing lasted four days and, at the conclusion, the claimant made a demand for an award in excess of $23 million.  In his award, the arbitrator emphatically rejected all claims, found in our clients’ favor, awarded the claimant nothing, and in so doing adopted much of the argument we had advanced.

The team thanks paralegals Marita Navarro, Katherine Wong and legal secretary Diane Gonzales for their invaluable support.

Gary J. Lorch
Sonia J. Taylor