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Bloomberg has been awarded more than $17 million in damages in a dispute over whether it properly ended its partnership with Nigeria-based Optima Media Group.
OMG in 2017 sued Bloomberg for $60 million over its termination of their license agreement. Back in 2012 the parties signed a deal under which OMG would create content targeted to a West African audience for Bloomberg TV. The contract gave both parties the right to terminate prior to the five-year expiration under certain conditions. In 2015, Bloomberg served a termination notice on the grounds that Optima had become insolvent and failed to keep up its end of the deal. OMG sued in response, claiming it wasn’t insolvent and the termination was really because of bad PR surrounding the operation. (The Guardian sent an inquiry to Bloomberg asking why reporters in Africa weren’t being paid their full salaries.)
A nine-day bench trial was held over the course of two months in the fall, ending on Dec. 10.
U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan on Friday released her opinion siding with the news conglomerate. She found OMG struggled to make license fee payments and failed to build an agreed upon studio in Lagos and launch live programming as promised.
“In sum, the Court finds that the Optima entities have failed to prove any asserted claims,” Nathan writes. “Bloomberg, however, has proved its counter-claim for breach of contract as a result of the Optima entities failure to adequately perform their obligations as set forth in the Agreement. Bloomberg has also established damages in the amount of $17,386,082 and entitlement to fees and costs.”
She awarded damages to cover the unpaid license fees ($750,000); the cost to use its London studio and offices ($3,011,081 or $11,111 per business day); and lost profits from the future license fees that would have been due ($13,625,000); and attorney’s fees and costs in an amount to be determined. She did not award damages for lost profit from revenue sharing payments and advertising.
Read the full opinion here.
In other entertainment legal news:
— The long-running dispute over James Brown’s estate is nearing settlement. Tomi Rae Hynie in 2007 sued claiming that, as Brown’s surviving spouse, she was entitled to a share of the estate even though only his six adult children were named in his will. That led to a fight over whether they were ever legally married, because Hynie was still married to her previous partner at the time they wed. (The South Carolina state Supreme Court ultimately ruled the marriage between Hynie and Brown was invalid.) Then in 2018 came the matter at hand, a dispute over who controlled the copyrights to the soul legend’s songs. The parties on May 12 notified the court they’ve agreed to settle, but if they can’t consummate the deal in 60 days the fight could be back on.
— Marc Kasowitz is firing back against a lawsuit from Charlie Walk, arguing the ousted music exec has buyers remorse about the settlement deal he agreed to and is trying to rehabilitate his reputation via litigation. Walk in March sued Kasowitz, claiming the attorney “passively cooperated with UMG” and pressured him into signing a one-sided settlement. (It was revealed in court documents to be worth about $1.7 million.) In a motion to dismiss filed May 10, Kasowitz’s attorney Daniel R. Benson argues Walk choosing to settle “was unquestionably a reasonable course of action, if not the only reasonable course of action, and it would not constitute anything close to malpractice even had Kasowitz ‘forcibly’ (whatever that means) urged Walk to do so (which, to be clear, Kasowitz did not).”
— An L.A. judge has granted CBS’ request to bifurcate its fight with Hanzer Holdings over profits from the 2016 MacGyver series. All discovery concerning damages is stayed until liability is determined.
— Netflix is clear of a defamation suit over its CIA thriller Messiah. The GEO Group, a private contractor that works with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in May 2020 sued over scenes in Messiah that showed an immigrant detention facility bearing its name and trademarks. The suit was voluntarily dismissed with prejudice on May 1.
— The state of Maine has backed down on a fight over a la carte programming. In 2019, Maine passed Chapter 308 (An Act to Expand Options for Consumers of Cable Television in Purchasing Individual Channels and Programs), a law that required cable operators to give subscribers the option to buy individual channels and TV programs. The 1st Circuit in February upheld an injunction barring the forced unbundling, and on April 23 the state dropped its fight and stipulated to a declaration that the law is barred by the First Amendment and an injunction that bars it from being enacted.
— L. Lin Wood is stepping away from a legal battle involving a woman who is suing Joy Reid for defamation by tweet. He made the decision to hand the reins to David Olasov after Reid asked a New York federal judge to disqualify him , in part, because of “false statements about election results, encouraging the siege of the United States Capitol” and “frivolous” suits he’s filed challenging election results. The parties agreed that his voluntary withdrawal made Reid’s motion moot.
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