'Jumanji' producer awarded $5 mil

Robert Cort sued financiers over breach of contract, fraud

A jury has awarded "Jumanji" producer Robert Cort $5 million in a lawsuit he brought against financiers Benevolent Partners.

Cort sued the hedge fund over a 20-year agreement to finance films for $4.85 million. The producer claimed that when he developed a slate of more than 30 projects, he was told by Benevolent -- a $20 million hedge fund led by Grant Johnson -- that it was out of money and would not provide the remaining financing.

Claiming breach of contract and fraud, Cort sought $900,000 in costs plus punitive damages. The three-week trial in Los Angeles Superior Court resulted in the jury awarding Cort $3.25 million in compensatory and a $1.75 million in punitive damages against Johnson, who was personally found liable for fraud.

"The was the exact result we were seeking," said Cort's attorney, George Hedges of Quinn Emanuel. "The need to issue punitive damages was a message that fraud in this context will not be tolerated."

Craig Huber, who represented Benevolent and Johnson at trial, said his clients plan to appeal the close, split jury verdict.

"At the heart of the case, and the one thing everyone agrees on, is the fact Benevolent 'loaned' Robert Cort's companies $1.7 million over the course of several years and has nothing to show for it, save for an adverse verdict," he said.

Cort has produced more than 50 feature films, including "Runaway Bride," "Mr. Holland's Opus" and "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure."