12:59pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Tyler Perry Escapes Lawsuit Over Studio Thanks to Military Red Tape
A federal judge in Georgia has determined that a lawsuit against Tyler Perry, the U.S. Army and a government authority working to redevelop a military base is premature.
The subject of the lawsuit is Fort McPherson, a 488-acre property in Atlanta.
Ubiquitous Entertainment Studios spent years towards completing a deal for a "movie studio entertainment complex," according to the company's lawsuit filed in July, but was told that the base first needed to be acquired from the Army. Then, city officials announced being in negotiations with Tyler Perry Studios in a potential $33 million deal, which set off Ubiquitous to claim in court that the government authority working to redevelop the base had violated by-laws by abandoning an open bidding process.
The plaintiff additionally sued Perry for allegedly stealing site and construction plans that were created by Ubiquitous and shared with the government authority.
U.S. District Judge Richard Story won't allow the lawsuit to proceed at this time.
According to his Tuesday ruling granting a motion to dismiss, "[B]ecause the federal government has not yet approved conveyance of the property to MILRA, a state entity, MILRA cannot close a deal with the Tyler Perry defendants or any other party. Therefore, Fort McPherson is still in the Army’s possession, and no state or private entity has a property interest in it. Tyler Perry and MILRA have not entered into a contract to sell Fort McPherson, so at this point the Court could only issue an impermissible advisory opinion as to the legality of MILRA’s actions. Consequently, this issue is not fit for judicial determination."
The judge also says that it's unclear when the Department of Defense "will complete all the bureaucratic steps necessary to approve final transfer of Fort McPherson," and adds that whether Perry will close a deal for a new Atlanta studio is "speculative."
Ubiquitous could bring a lawsuit if and when the deal closes, and in case the judge's message isn't clear enough, a company spokesperson tells The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "“After carefully reviewing the court’s order, we believe it in no way speaks to the merits of our case — only the timing of it.”