‘Walking Dead’ Profits Lawsuit Now Sees AMC Accused Of Trying To Avoid Trial With “Specious Arguments”

Dominic Patten

A day after AMC injected some of the WGA’s war with the uber-agencies over packaging into the multi-million dollar legal battle with a former The Walking Dead showrunner and CAA over hefty profits from the zombie apocalypse series, lawyers for Frank Darabont and his reps bit back at the cabler.

And, with more than $300 million on the table in the nearly six-year long matter, their fangs were sharp.

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“AMC is desperate to create a rift between Darabont and CAA, while distracting attention from the fact that seven profit participants on The Walking Dead have now sued AMC for hundreds of millions in damages resulting from AMC’s self-dealing,” said a four-page letter from Jerry D. Berstein, one of the plaintiffs’ primary attorneys in reference to the letter that AMC’s lawyer Orin Snyder sent to New York Supreme Court Justice Joel M. Cohen on May 20.

“The obvious purpose of AMC’s filing was to (1) falsely accuse Plaintiff Creative Artists Agency of breaching duties to Plaintiff Frank Darabont by attempting to smear CAA about an unrelated litigation with the Writers Guild of America, (2) cancel depositions set for today and later this week, and (3) attempt to torpedo the May 11, 2020 trial date for this action (the “Audit Case”) and the prior 2013 action (the “License Fee Case”), which are consolidated for trial, “ the Blank Rome attorney added.

A footnote to today’s letter (read it here) makes clear just how personal this case has become: “At one point, AMC’s attorneys burst out in laughter at Darabont’s testimony that he knew ‘nothing’ about certain aspects of the negotiations of his contract with AMC.”

“Plaintiffs request that Your Honor deny AMC’s request in its entirety,” the legalese heavy letter concluded after taking Snyder to the woodshed on asking Darabont if he trusted “your lawyers in this case, Mr. Kinsella and his firm and Mr. Bernstein and their firm” in a recent deposition. “Plaintiffs further request that AMC be ordered to promptly complete all future depositions that it canceled, and that it be prohibited from asking improper questions related to (1) legal contentions, (2) CAA’s unrelated litigation with the WGA, and (3) issues related to the License Fee Case that have already been fully addressed through fact discovery and summary judgment.”

Outside of the court docket and still smarting from the attacks of “improper and obstructive deposition conduct” in AMC’s letter to Justice Cohen yesterday, Dale Kinsella himself had something to say too.

“As revealed in our letter to the court, AMC’s effort to disrupt and delay the existing trial date by creating sham discovery disputes is never ending,” the Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert partner told Deadline this morning.

“Understandably obsessed with focusing attention on anything but its own despicable behavior toward the profit participants, AMC has opportunistically attempted to link the WGA’s dispute with talent agencies as somehow relevant to AMC’s defense to Mr. Darabont’s claims regarding unpaid back end profits,” Kinsella asserted of Snyder’s request for a hearing on his rival’s alleged “misconduct” in depositions.

“We are optimistic the court will see through Mr. Snyder’s specious arguments and keep the parties on track for the scheduled trial.”

This latest chapter of the War and Peace of H’wood legal dust-ups started when CAA and Darabont first sued AMC over back end bucks from TWD in December 2013. They followed up with a second $10 million suit in January 2018 based on documents they had seen of series creator Robert Kirkman’s deal in the interim.

Through legal thick and thin both cases have now been melded together for that trial that is supposed to start next year. Since the initial suit, Kirkman, EP Gale Anne Hurd and other TWD execs also went after AMC in the summer of 2017 over money that they say the cabler screwed them out of too.

That drama hasn’t even begun to fully play itself out – neither has this one.

AMC had no immediate comment on today’s letter.

 

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