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Nearly six months after Sumner Redstone’s former companion Manuela Herzer filed a motion for summary judgment in the mogul’s elder abuse lawsuit against her and his ex-fiance Sidney Holland, an Los Angeles court again delayed its ruling.
Judge Robert Hess on April 13 told attorneys for Redstone, Herzer and Holland that the hearing would be “slightly shorter” — although it still wasn’t brief — because their filings on the matter were deficient. Herzer in October asked the court to toss the suit, arguing Redstone has refused to participate in the litigation, so there is no genuine dispute of material fact and Herzer is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. After the hearing was rescheduled multiple times, Hess on Friday was set to hear arguments.
After handling all the other matters on his morning calendar, Hess called the Redstone parties only to find Herzer’s attorney Ronald Richards had to step out to present a different case to another judge. Hess decided to wait for his return — and entertained the lawyers who were in the room with a good old dad joke in the meantime. “You know why the cat ate the Limburger cheese?” he asked. “So he could wait at the mousehole with baited breath.”
Hess explained that the parties failed to properly cite the specific evidence they were relying on in support of their arguments, and directed them to amend their filings.
“I’m not going to make you start over again,” he said. “I’m going to give you an opportunity to fix this.”
The filings are due in May, and the next hearing is currently set for June 4.
In other entertainment legal news:
— A $50 million lawsuit over Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez On Me has been voluntarily dismissed. Kevin Powell in June sued Morgan Creek, Lionsgate and producers and writers connected to the film, claiming it infringes on a series of articles he wrote for Vibe magazine in the 1990s. Powell on April 6 filed a stipulation dismissing with prejudice his Lanham Act and statutory damages claims and dismissing without prejudice his remaining claims. An April 10 announcement from defendants’ law firm Glaser Weil explained that the dismissal followed a proposed motion for sanctions against Powell. It alleged the suit was frivolous because, among other arguments, he lacked standing to sue and the purportedly copied facts and ideas weren’t protectable.
— A producer who says he was conned into signing over his intellectual property rights to Peter Rabbit is asking the court to deny a motion for summary judgment on his claims. Jason Lust in October 2016 sued Animal Logic, claiming the VFX house turned production company convinced him to hand over his Peter Rabbit IP rights and then shut him out of working on the project. Animal Logic countersued and then in March filed a motion for summary judgment on one of its claims and all of Lust’s.
The producer on March 26 filed an opposition to the motion, arguing there are material issues of fact that preclude summary judgment and a trial date should be set. “Only in Hollywood would a production company swindle a creative out of his intellectual property, development work, and producer credit, then terminate his contract, and claim that an incomplete 3-page agreement authorized the fraud,” writes attorney Neville Johnson. In its April 9 reply, Animal Logic argued that Lust offers no evidence to support his allegations and no reasonable jury would rule in his favor.
— Richard Simmons must pay almost $130,000 in attorneys’ fees to the National Enquirer after the magazine convinced the court to toss his libel lawsuit on an anti-SLAPP motion. The fitness guru sued the magazine last May, after it published a series of stories about his alleged transition from male to female. California’s anti-SLAPP statute contains a provision that awards reasonable fees to the prevailing party. American Media Inc., National Enquirer‘s parent company, had sought about $243,000 in fees. Simmons challenged that amount and the court agreed it was excessive.
— Viacom is suing an Illinois company for copyright trademark infringement over live events featuring characters from its animated series Paw Patrol. In a complaint filed March 26, Viacom claims Hearrt Events ignored several cease-and-desist letters and continues to hold “meet and greet” events at which fans can pay $20 to pose for photos with the characters and get paw-print autographs.
— Italian actress Carlotta Montanari won a $525,000 default judgment in her harassment and libel lawsuit against banker Bruce Barren. She sued in 2015, claiming he began threatening her and launched a website that advertised her as a prostitute after she refused his romantic advances. The court previously ordered Barren to remove the website and on April 5 awarded Montanari damages plus about $1,500 in costs. The actress is represented by Geoffrey Long and Ronald Richards, who sent The Hollywood Reporter her statement on the matter. Montanari says, in part, “I thought this nightmare would never end, and I am proud I stood up for myself and refused to be victimized.” Barren did not reply to a request for comment.