MULTIPLE CLAIMS AGAINST UNIVERSAL DISMISSED IN THE SPINAL TAP CASE
Steven T. Lowe
On August 28, 2018, U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee dismissed fraud and breach of contract claims that “This Is Spinal Tap” creators had asserted against Universal Music Group, Inc. (“Universal”) and others. The initial lawsuit brought by Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner (the four co-creators of the Spinal Tap “mockumentary” released in 1984) sought $400 million against Universal for withholding royalties.
Plaintiff Harry Shearer initially filed the suit in 2016 against Vivendi but later amended the complaint to include three additional plaintiffs and increase the damages to $400 million.
On August 28, 2018, Judge Gee granted Universal’s request to dismiss claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, accounting, and fraud after Universal successfully argued that the contract claims against it should not stand because it was not a party to the original agreement between plaintiffs and the independent studio responsible for making the film. Judge Gee however did keep plaintiffs’ claims of fraud against co-defendant, French media giant, Vivendi SA, alive.
Vivendi, who has been accused on numerous occasions of failing to deliver accounting statements and hiding its earnings, is now being accused of taking more than $4.3 million in improper expense deductions- which include “outrageous expenses” such as $460,000 in interest on production advances and $165,000 in litigation expenses for fighting the lawsuit at issue.
The case is Century of Progress Productions v. Vivendi SA et al., case number 2:16-cv-07733, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
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