12:43pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Ashton Kutcher Company Settles Lawsuit with DMV (Exclusive)
Want service from the DMV? Maybe the best policy is to sue.
Last June, Ashton Kutcher's production company, Katalyst Media, sued California's Department of Motor Vehicles for backing out of a deal on a reality television show that would have featured its employees. Katalyst claimed it was owed at least $1.44 million in damages for breach of contract.
The DMV has signed off on paperwork to settle the dispute. We're told that the agency will be writing a check to make the case go away.
The deal to resolve the litigation occurs about two months before it was scheduled to be heard before a jury.
The DMV acknowledged that in early 2010, it was involved in negotiations with the plaintiffs for a reality TV show about the everyday operations of a DMV field office. But the agency attempted to take away Katalyst's license to sue by doubting the existence of a valid contract. Specifically, the DMV -- actually, California deputy attorney general Paul Epstein -- pointed to a signed location agreement, which it says was missing "its essential terms [such as] the identity of the DMV field [office] to which plaintiffs would be given access and the specific dates on which access would be permitted."
Los Angeles Superior Court judge Michael Johnson denied DMV's efforts to have key claims tossed, finding that the plaintiffs had made sufficient allegations at the pleading stage.
A fuller interpretation of whether the parties fulfilled their obligations under any contract could have been made by a judge and jury this summer, but a settlement likely takes care of that.
The lawsuit hasn't yet been fully dismissed. According to a notice of settlement filed by the parties, the agreement "conditions dismissal... on the satisfactory completion of specified terms that are not to be performed within 45 days of the date of the settlement."
That note seems to tease the possibility of something happening in the future, although it won't be a revival of the DMV reality show. There's money involved, but the exact financial terms are not known.
Papers to dismiss the case are due July 8. The plaintiff was represented by Michael Weinsten and Marty Singer at Lavely & Singer.
Katalyst has previously produced Punk'd, Beauty and the Geek and True Beauty.
E-mail: [email protected]; Twitter: @eriqgardner