Warner Bros. doesn’t think a federal judge should waste much time on a lawsuit that contends its 2012 film, Trouble With the Curve starring Clint Eastwood as a cantankerous aging baseball scout, was stolen and wrongfully held out to be one writer’s vision through conspiracy.
In court documents filed on Wednesday, Warner Bros. has unleashed its go-to legal pitbull Daniel Petrocelli to demand that the case “be brought to a halt before defendants have to incur any further costs defending it.”
In October, Gold Glove Productions brought a 100+ page complaint that detailed the alleged lengths that the studio and other defendants went to in order to cover up that the picture was ripped off from a script called Omaha, penned by Don Handfield and said to have been made as a work-for-hire for Gold Glove. The lawsuit claimed, among other things, that Gold Glove and Handfield became at odds over a “substandard” job in polishing the script and that Handfield and others were “then involved in camouflaging Omaha such that it would become Trouble With the Curve.”
According to the original lawsuit discussing the “scandalous conspiracy,” the Eastwood film got credited to Randy Brown, someone who the plaintiff said “had but two small writing credits to his entire career and was playing in a band that performed at weddings and gigs at places such as Monty’s Steak House.”
Gold Glove also promised in its legal papers that the case would “serve as a beacon of light for those who wish to follow in an effort to rid the industry of such corruption. This case is built on evidence, hard facts, persuasive expert opinions, investigative reports, common sense and the exposed egos of those who believe that grown adults can lie egregiously without getting caught because they think they are invincible.”
Warner Bros. has now countered, declaring the game should essentially end in the first inning:
“The Warner Defendants appreciate that early summary judgment motions are not the norm, but this case calls out for it, especially given the salaciousness of the complaint and Plaintiffs’ abject refusal to face the reality — attested to by various third-party witnesses — that Mr. Brown wrote TWTC in the 1990s.”
The litigation over Trouble with the Curve has now become somewhat of a test to see just how quickly a studio can put to bed a stolen-idea lawsuit.
Warner says it has “indisputable” evidence that “disproves Plaintiffs’ claims.”
In particular, the defendants look to show that even before Gold Glove commissioned Omaha in 2005, Brown already had made multiple drafts of his own script with the copyrighted material. Further, they are aiming to show that when Brown saved copies of his script on “floppy disks” in the 1990s, they were “forensically dated.”
In short, they believe that “prior creation bars a claim of copying,” and if the judge wants more, they’ve also included declarations from Brown’s former screenwriting professor at UCLA, former executives at The Bubble Factory who say they reviewed Brown’s script as early as 1997 and sent it out to agents for Dustin Hoffman and Paul Newman, Brown’s attorney back then and Brown himself.
“Plaintiffs have provided the Warner Defendants with no competent evidence contesting this lynchpin date-of-creation issue,” says the summary judgment motion. “Instead, they attack defendants’ proffered evidence, calling it (1) a ‘fraud’; (2) sponsored by ‘biased’ witnesses; and (3) contravened by experts whose alleged reports Plaintiffs refuse to disclose… Plaintiffs’ tactic of ‘questioning the authenticity of virtually every piece of information provided by defendants’ is unsustainable under copyright law.”
Who wins? The irresistible defendant offering up supposed proof of “prior creation” or the immovable plaintiff not impressed with any of it? Stay tuned.