5:35am PT by Eriq Gardner
Judge Rules Morgan Spurlock Production Co. Likely Breached Deal for TNT Docuseries
A California federal judge has ordered Morgan Spurlock's Warrior Poets production company to deposit money into an escrow account pending a legal fight over a planned TNT series titled Who Runs the World?
Turner Entertainment filed its lawsuit after Spurlock tweeted a lengthy post confessing to sexual misconduct. At the time, Spurlock was working on this TNT series, which would focus on issues facing women in today's world. Turner argued it was entitled to take over production of the project and sought a preliminary injunction aimed at stopping Spurlock and Warrior Poets from disbursing funds.
Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real agreed with Spurlock's contentions that he wasn't a party to the production services agreement and thus, Turner couldn't hold him liable for individually breaching the deal. He was dismissed as a co-defendant.
But that didn't resolve claims against Warrior Poets.
On Tuesday, Real followed up by granting the preliminary injunction against Warrior Poets based on a different confession of sorts.
The judge notes that the agreement required that funds for the TNT series be kept in a separate bank account. Warrior Poets gave Turner information on a bank account in which funds should be deposited.
"Defendant, however, states that this account is in fact its general operating account," writes Real. "Based on Defendant’s own admission, it appears that Defendant is in breach of the PSA because it failed to create a separate Production Banking Account and commingled Production Bank Account funds with its general operating account. Therefore, Plaintiff is likely to prevail on its breach of contract claim. Further, if Plaintiff’s further allegations of breach are proven true and Defendant is in material breach of the PSA, Plaintiff will be entitled to return of the funds in the Production Bank Account."
The judge adds that Turner has shown irreparable harm and that Warrior Poets' "apparent failure to properly segregate the funds makes it more likely that Defendant will use Production Banking Account funds for improper purposes. If Defendant has shut down, then it is likely that, by the time this lawsuit is resolved, there will be no funds to pay a future judgment."
Accordingly, the funds are to be put into a production banking account with the court clerk.