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'Nash Bridges' Legal Losers Sue to Recoup Millions Paid to Don Johnson

Rysher Entertainment, Mark Cuban's 2929 Entertainment and Qualia Capital claim that Cox Media Group agreed to indemnify them for more than $44 million in losses stemming from Johnson's recent legal victory over profits from the hit CBS series.

Nash Bridges TV Still - P 2012
"Nash Bridges"

The long-running legal war over Nash Bridges has entered a new battlefield.

Former owners of the CBS hit who lost $15 million in a lawsuit brought by Don Johnson over profits from the series are now attempting to recoup the loss and more from the company that sold them the show in the first place. Rysher Entertainment, Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner's 2929 Entertainment and Qualia Capital sued Cox Media Group on Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court for more than $44 million, claiming Cox must indemnify them from losses, lost future revenue and attorneys fees because a Cox accounting move resulted in $71.4 million in production expenses being withheld from calculating Johnson's share of profits.  

Read the complaint here.

Cox owned Nash Bridges producer Rysher until 2001, when it sold the company to an affiliate of 2929. As part of the sale, Cox allegedly assured the buyers that they would be able to reap $191 million in revenue from Nash Bridges before they had to share with any third-party profit participant, according to the suit.

After the sale, along came Don Johnson Productions, which alleged that as part of his lucrative deal to star in Nash Bridges, the actor was guaranteed a rich 50 percent ownership stake in the show if it lasted 66 episodes. It aired on CBS from 1996 to 2001, generating 122 episodes. 

Johnson sued in 2009, naming Rysher, 2929 and Qualia as defendants. A jury ultimately took $71.4 million out of the equation measuring how much revenue Nash Bridges generated because that amount was written down by Cox before the sale. Johnson was awarded more than $52 million, which was reduced to $15 million on appeal. "In upholding the $15 million damages award, the court of appeal cited a single justification for the award: that the write-down by Cox eliminated $71 million in production costs for purposes of calculating profits generated by Nash Bridges," the lawsuit states.   

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Johnson settled the case in January for $19 million, THR reported. So now the producers are suing Cox to recover that $15 million award, plus $20.7 million for lost future revenue and $8.3 million in attorneys fees, costs and expenses. "Despite its contractual obligation to defend and indemnify Plaintiffs against such liabilities, Cox has refused to do so," the complaint states.

The suit, filed by Patty Glaser and Joel Klevens of LA's Glaser Weil firm and Thomas Melsheimer and Scott Thomas of Dallas' Fish and Richardson, alleges causes of action for contractual indemnity and declaratory relief. 

We've reached out to Cox for comment on the suit and will update with a response.

Email: Matthew.Belloni@THR.com
Twitter: @THRMattBelloni