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Judge Tosses Vivendi’s Motion to Dismiss $400 Million Spın̈al Tap Lawsuit

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As you may recall, earlier this year, the creators of This is Spın̈al Tap — Harry Shearer (a.k.a. Derek Smalls) Michael McKean (a.k.a. David St. Hubbins), Christopher Guest (a.k.a. Nigel Tufnel), and director Rob Reiner (who also played ‘Marty Di Bergi’) — banded together once again to file a $400 million lawsuit against Vivendi, who own the rights to the film. The quartet claim that the media conglomorate “conducted blatantly unfair business practices” utilizing “fuzzy and falsified entertainment industry accounting schemes” the four creators out of money owed to them. Vivendi, unsurprisingly, refuted the claim, and filed a motion to have the case dismissed.

Deadline now reports that earlier today, U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee handed down a bittersweet ruling for both the plaintiffs and the defendants. It’s a little complicated and I don’t entirely understand it the legalese of it all, but here are the bullet points:

  • The case will not be thrown out, as Vivendi hoped it would…
  • …but only Guest’s suit can proceed, because he’s the only one of the four to have filed under his own name, and not the name of his loan-out company (basically a corporation set up for tax purposes)…
  • …but Reiner, McKean, and Shearer have twenty-one days to re-file the suit sans their loan-out companies…
  • …but they’ll also have to make other amendments to the suit, as Gee “reject[ed] a potentially lucrative fraud claim against the plaintiffs that asserted, in part, that the Defendant ‘willfully concealed and manipulated years of accountings'” because, according to Gee, “Team Tap ‘failed to adequately state a fraud claim.'”

So, basically, Spın̈al Tap’s lawyers will scramble to make some adjustments and then try to move the case forward. If they for some reason fail to do so, Vivendi will need to contend with Guest and Guest alone. But don’t expect that to be the outcome.

More details as they become available…

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