Legal 'Matters' for Warners

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Warner Bros. was sued Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by a writer and producer of the 1990s sitcom "Family Matters" who claims that the studio owes him millions in domestic syndication bonuses.

The lawsuit, filed by David Duclon and his Lightkeeper Prods., questions the accounting done by the studio in determining the bonuses. Duclon claims that according to a May 1991 agreement and a later amendment to that agreement in 1994, the bonuses should be computed based on all 215 episodes. By first-quarter 2009, he claims he should receive $7.4 million.

Warners, however, has decided to separate the gross receipts from the first 120 episodes from the remaining 95 episodes, which would result in fewer if any bonus payments to Duclon, according to the lawsuit.

A Warners spokeswoman said it was studio policy to not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit seeks a court order indicating that Duclon's math is correct and that computing bonuses should include all 215 episodes as a single series.

Duclon was a writer on the series since its inception in 1989. The sitcom ran through 1998 and revolved around a middle-class black family in Chicago. The show's most popular character was Steve Urkel, the nerdy, suspenders-wearing neighbor.
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