Hollywood Docket: Studios Sued Over Missing Cosplay Merchandise

A roundup of legal news involving Bill Cosby, President Donald Trump, Kanye West and others.
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'Star Trek'

A company that sells props and replicas of costumes from hit sci-fi franchises including Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica is being sued for fraud — along with the studios who gave the company permission to create the products — for allegedly not fulfilling presale orders.

A Louisiana man named Richard Dalton says he paid Anovos more than $40,000 for merchandise but never received it, according to a complaint filed Monday in California federal court. The items he ordered include a Star Trek Spock replica blue tunic, a Star Wars: The Force Awakens Kylo Ren costume with helmet and a $9,000 buildable replica of a starship. More than three years after his first purchase, having never received his products, Dalton read an explanation on the company's website. It said when products experienced production delays, some customers would cancel orders and fewer pre-orders led to an increase in the price of the raw materials and per-unit cost as well as cancellation of items that failed to meet the factory's minimums.

"Despite Anovos’ inability to fulfill the hundreds, if not thousands of pre-paid orders customers have already submitted, Anovos continues to market and sell pre-order items on its website and on social media in the same manner: requiring full upfront costs of the items in addition to shipping," writes attorney Joshua Swigart in the complaint, adding that the company in April instituted an "all sales are final" policy. 

Disney, NBCUniversal and CBS are also defendants in Dalton's class action complaint, which estimates total damages will exceed $5 million. Dalton says the studios permitted Anovos to defraud consumers by renewing their licensing agreements with the companies.

The proposed class is currently defined as: "All consumers who paid for a pre-order product(s) from Anovos and licensed by Disney, NBCU, and/or CBS, and who have not received the product nor a refund from January 1, 2016, through the present."

Read the full complaint here.

In other entertainment legal news:

— Bill Cosby is dropping his defamation counterclaims in a legal fight with several accusers that began in 2014. The women, led by Tamara Green, sued Cosby for defamation over the comedian's denials of their allegations of abuse. He fired back with a lawsuit of his own, claiming they damaged his reputation and hindered projects he had in the works with several networks. The first suit was settled in April, although Cosby said it was a decision made by his insurance company without his knowledge or permission. Last week, Cosby voluntarily dismissed his complaint. 

— The former staffer who's suing Donald Trump for allegedly violating his First Amendment rights says the contract he signed while working for Trump's campaign doesn't mean his claims against the president have to be handled in arbitration. Shortly after his book Team of Vipers was released, the Trump campaign filed an arbitration claim against Sims for allegedly breaching the secrecy and non-disparagement provisions of his contract. Sims then sued asking the court to rule that Trump can't enforce any NDA that infringes upon his free speech rights. The DOJ in April asked the court to dismiss the complaint or move it to arbitration because the Trump campaign is a private employer that has the right to enforce an NDA.

On Friday, Sims fired back, saying the Trump administration is trying to hide behind the campaign. "The present case is not litigation against the Trump Campaign: it is litigation by Mr. Sims against President Trump, in his official capacity, and the U.S. Government for the illegitimate and unconstitutional use of the Trump Campaign as a cutout to infringe upon Mr. Sims’ First Amendment rights," states the filing. "Mr. Sims never entered into a contract with either of the federal defendants that would require submission to arbitration to vindicate his First Amendment rights to publish unclassified information learned during his federal service." (Read the full filing here.)

— Kanye West and EMI appear to be nearing a settlement of their dispute over his publishing contract. The parties in May asked the court to extend a stay of the dispute because they "continue to engage in active, productive discussions and remain optimistic that they may be able to achieve a resolution."

— The New York woman who sued Beyonce's Parkwood Entertainment claiming Beyonce.com isn't sufficiently accessible to people with visual disabilities has voluntarily dismissed her complaint with prejudice.

— Madonna can't reclaim personal memorabilia that was auctioned by her former friend, a New York appeals court ruled Tuesday. The singer in August 2017 sued Darlene Lutz after seeing items including underwear, handwritten song lyrics, the headpiece she wore during the filming of Evita and cassette tapes of unreleased sound recordings up for sale on an auction site. The court upheld an earlier dismissal of the claims, finding the claims were barred by a 2004 settlement agreement and Lutz had the right to sell the items. "Lutz, and not plaintiff, is the rightful owner of the personal property at issue based on the 2004 settlement agreement," states the decision. "Lutz was free to do with the property as she wished, which included consigning the property to the auction house defendants for sale."