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The day after AMC submitted an order for sanctions against CAA in the lawsuit over fired showrunner Frank Darabont‘s profits from The Walking Dead, the court has declined to sign the order.
The network wants CAA sanctioned for including exec Jon Ringquist in the team approved under a court order to view the network’s “highly confidential” business documents. They claim Ringquist was included because they believed he was a lawyer. But in an August 12 deposition Ringquist, a business affairs executive, confirmed he never practiced law.
The network claims Ringquist’s inclusion under the protective order was either “reckless or grossly negligent” or “intentional and a fraud upon this court.” They argue Ringquist’s access to the confidential documents would give CAA an unfair advantage in business negotiations with AMC.
“In future negotiations with AMC, Mr. Ringquist, a senior executive in CAA’s Business Affairs department, can now take advantage of the ‘Highly Confidential’ information that he improperly obtained,” states AMC’s filing (read here).
The network wants CAA to pay $10,000 for every instance of “frivolous conduct,” calling the agency and its lawyers’ inclusion of Ringquist in the proceedings a “shocking case of legal misconduct,” and for the agency to return all confidential documents shared with Ringquist. They also want to take additional deposition of Ringquist and Darabont’s agent Bruce Vinokour, whose testimony was limited in June on concerns it would breached his purported attorney-client privilege with Ringquist.
“AMC’s ridiculous rush to file with the court a motion properly heard by the discovery master in the case is little more than an effort to deflect attention from its own repeated failure to defend the case on its merits,” CAA attorney Dale Kinsella told THR. “Plaintiffs intend to vigorously oppose this sham motion.”
The agency’s attorneys wrote the judge a letter earlier on Friday, arguing the motion violated the judge’s order appointing a discovery master to handle such disputes and violated New York court rules requiring parties inform each other before filing new motions.
Judge Eileen Bransten agreed in a Friday order.
“The parties first should meet and confer regarding the alleged dispute in the proposed Order to Show Cause and to the extent that any remaining good faith dispute persists after this meet and confer, such dispute should be presented to and resolved by the Discovery Master,” she writes.
“CAA’s egregious misrepresentations regarding Mr. Ringquist’s status as a supposed lawyer were made to Justice Bransten, so we brought this important matter to her direct attention. We are pleased to follow her direction and have the Special Master in this case rule on our request for sanctions against CAA. It is notable that CAA does not deny that they have misrepresented Mr. Ringquist’s status as a lawyer and that CAA and Ringquist levered this lie to avoid discovery and obtain access to AMC’s most sensitive information and trade secrets,” AMC attorney Marc Kasowitz tellsThe Hollywood Reporter.
Aug. 21, 2:37 p.m. Headline updated to reflect the order will go before the discovery master.
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