December 15, 2011 11:58am PT by Matthew Belloni
FX, Kurt Sutter Win Lawsuit Claiming 'Sons of Anarchy' Was Stolen (Exclusive)
FX and Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter have prevailed in a lawsuit filed by an ex-Hell's Angel biker who claimed the idea for the hit drama series was stolen.
Chuck Zito sued FX for $5 million in June 2010 claiming he had developed a show called Nomads (later The Wild Angels) and had agents at ICM set up a pitch meeting in 2004 with FX chief John Landgraf, during which Zito says he discussed ideas for a show about a motorcycle club. FX passed on the project but later developed Sutter's Sons, which ICM packaged and which recently concluded its 4th season as a big hit for the network. "FX was obligated to pay Zito the reasonable value of his ideas, hire him to work on the series and afford him screen credit as creator," the lawsuit alleged. "Defendants breached an implied-in-fact contract with defendant."
At the time, Sutter took to his twitter account to blast the lawsuit, saying: "HAVING THE F***ING IDEA IS NOT THE SHOW. THERE HAVE BEEN DOZENS OF OUTLAW MOTORCYCLE TV DRAMAS PITCHED IN THE LAST TEN YEARS. NONE OF THEM HAS MADE IT TO SERIES, EXCEPT SOA. BECAUSE THEY SUCKED."
Today a Los Angeles Superior Court judge agreed, ruling on summary judgment that Sons was independently created and Zito doesn't have a case. The judge relied on declarations submitted by Sutter, Landgraf and talent agent Matt Solo (now with WME), among others, showing Sutter's development process and the fact that Sons was pitched to several networks, including HBO and AMC, before arriving at FX, which bought the project in a bidding war. The judge saw no reason for the case to continue past the summary judgment phase.
We've reached out to Zito's attorneys for comment.
FX is represented by Scott Edelman at LA's Gibson Dunn firm and Rick Stone at Jenner & Block.