5:55pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Nancy Grace Legal Fight With Former Associate Heats Up
A former colleague of lawyer-turned-TV host Nancy Grace is pursuing a $15 million lawsuit for helping create the syndicated show Swift Justice, despite threat of sanctions.
Patricia Caruso sued Grace in March claiming that she and Grace had an agreement in 2008 to together create a legal-themed syndicated TV series.
Caruso said that she had been working with Grace since 2002, when they were both employed by Court TV. Allegedly, the two got together at a restaurant in New York to discuss a new project to be called Grace's Cases. Over the next two years, Caruso says she worked tirelessly to help develop the show, collaborating with various agents and television executives.
CBS Television Distribution eventually picked up the show, Swift Justice, but changed the format somewhat and supposedly didn't want Caruso involved. Grace is said to have reassured Caruso about her place on the show as executive producer, but such an offer never came to fruition. In the lawsuit, Caruso claimed she was entitled to a 10 percent fee of the show budget plus back-end compensation at around 10 percent.
To fight the lawsuit, Grace hired Orin Snyder at Gibson Dunn, who specializes in knocking sensitive Hollywood lawsuits out in the early phase.
Snyder motioned to dismiss the case, and in May, at a hearing, a federal judge expressed skepticism about the enforceability of an alleged oral agreement between Caruso and Grace.
Snyder followed this up by serving an instant motion for sanctions against Caruso and her lawyers for bringing a bad-faith claim.
After much consideration, and a consultation with a fomer U.S. D.A., Caruso's lawyer, Gregory Clarick, has decided to take his chances, telling the judge in a memorandum filed last Wednesday that there's a "sincere" belief that Caruso will prevail on her claims and that Caruso "won't succumb to Grace's threat of a sanctions motion."