Settlement reached in 'Passion' lawsuit

June 3 trial canceled

A settlement has been reached in a screenwriter's lawsuit against Mel Gibson over "The Passion of the Christ."

A notice of settlement filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court stated that an agreement had been reached and was being put into writing. The filing asked a judge to cancel a trial scheduled for June 3.

Benedict Fitzgerald sued Gibson and several film companies for $10 million in February 2008, claiming that Gibson and others vastly understated the budget for the 2004 blockbuster. The screenwriter's suit claimed Gibson told him the budget for the movie would be in the $4 million to $7 million range, but that it was significantly higher.

Fitzgerald also claimed that Gibson told him he would not receive any money from the film, but considered it a gift of his faith.

His attorneys also claimed Gibson spent tens of thousands of dollars on his children's education while filming in Italy and paid a chiropractor $78,000. They contended those expenses lowered payments to Fitzgerald.

Several of the lawsuit's claims had been thrown out and in recent hearings, attorneys for Gibson said the actual amount in dispute was significantly lower.

No details of the settlement were filed.

Phone messages left for attorneys for Gibson and Fitzgerald were not immediately returned Monday.

Both sides battled over the film's finances for months. A judge last year ordered Gibson to answer questions about the film's planning and finances during a deposition.

Attorneys for the actor and Academy Award-winning director contended that Gibson did not know the intricacies of the film's budget.
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