7:16pm PT by Alex Ben Block
Miramax's Ron Tutor Sues Over $2.9 Million Film Deal
Ronald Tutor and a company he controls filed the latest in a series of lawsuits Wednesday against David Molner, Aramid Entertainment and others charging breach of contract and interference with contractual relations in regard to other litigation related to film businesses involving investor David Bergstein.
The suit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by Tutor and a U.K. company he owns called Library Asset Acquisition Co. (LAAC), which was formed to hold interests in movies. The suit is against not only Molner, Aramid and related entities but also a number of former employees of Bergstein’s companies, including Roger Hanson, Hans Turner and Jeffrey Gaul.
In June 2009, Tutor, now a co-owner of Miramax, allegedly paid Aramid and related entities $2.9 million to settle claims related to a ThinkFilm loan he had made to finance movies during the period Bergstein and Tutor were building their interests in the film business. The suit charges that after Molner signed a release on behalf of Aramid for that loan, he and Aramid had no right to go forward and file other lawsuits or take a leading role in forcing Bergstein’s movie businesses into involuntary bankruptcy.
“LAAC and Tutor paid Aramid handsomely for the ThinkFilm release under the June 8, 2009, agreement, paying more than $2.9 million, the full amount owed Aramid, whereas the other owners of the ThinkFilm loans took discounts as part of the settlement,” reads the suit. “Aramid [breached that agreement] by making claims and instituting litigation based upon claims that were expressly released.”
The suit then lists other legal actions taken by Aramid, such as the involuntary bankruptcy and foreclosure actions against various film libraries, saying none of them should ever have occurred because Aramid had signed off on what it had been owed in that ThinkFilm loan.
The suit also charges that Bergstein’s former lawyer Susan Tregub and others conspired to use confidential information they gained while employed by Bergstein to aid Molner and Aramid in the legal cases.
The suit does not mention that the federal bankruptcy court has repeatedly ruled that the key holding company was R2D2, which was formed by Bergstein and Tutor in 2002, not ThinkFilm. Tutor later said he sold his interest in R2D2 in early 2009 (a date that is disputed by the trustee appointed by the bankruptcy court, who charges the sale document was backdated).
The new suit has other inconsistencies. For instance, it says the federal judge chose as trustee someone designated by Aramid. In fact, the trustee was chosen by the U.S. Trustee’s Office from a list provided by Bergstein and Tutor’s side who then was approved by them.
On Wednesday, Molner told The Hollywood Reporter this is only the latest in a series of suits attempting to disguise what really happened. “This continues a hopeless strategy of filing a multiplicity of lawsuits in an effort to divert attention from the bad acts of the principals,” Molner said. “They continue to underestimate our resolve in pursuing our rights and remedies.“
Tutor’s lawsuit does not specify how much money would be due to him, but it does say that the actions by Molner, Aramid and the others have cost him “tens of millions” of dollars and have damaged the value of the companies and movies caught up in the many legal actions.
The suit adds that Tutor and LAAC have “lost several millions of dollars in lost opportunities to sell or dispose of their film-related assets, and to undertake further investment in the film industry. In addition, as a result of negative publicity created by the aforementioned lawsuits and bankruptcies, plaintiffs were prevented from entering into additional film-related deals and transactions. Further, plaintiffs have been required to pay millions of dollars of legal fees to prevent or limit the losses to the value of their assets.”