Warner Bros. Settles $900M Lawsuit Over 'The Conjuring'

Conjuring 2 Publicity Still 2 H 2016
Courtesy of New Line Cinema

The Conjuring 2

Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema have settled a big-ticket lawsuit that was brought by an author who claimed the Conjuring franchise infringed his exclusive rights to tell the story of the married ghost hunters portrayed in the films — and the announcement came the same day The Hollywood Reporter published online a disturbing story about a woman who claims the real Ed and Lorraine Warren weren't the loving couple portrayed onscreen.

Gerald Brittle sued in 2016, claiming The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2 and the Annabelle spinoffs infringe on his exclusive rights to create derivative works based on the Warrens' case files.

Brittle and New Line on Wednesday released this joint statement: "Mr. Brittle has agreed to dismiss his lawsuit against New Line and its affiliates with prejudice, as the parties announced on the record in open court last week. Mr. Brittle 'realizes that filing this lawsuit was a mistake, and that New Line has no liability and did nothing wrong.' New Line has remaining counterclaims against Mr. Brittle, and the parties are working to resolve those claims as well."  

Now, it seems, Brittle is claiming he wasn't in control of his own lawsuit — and the person he says was behind the action is the same one who emailed studio execs in 2013 claiming the Warrens were hiding Ed's decades-long affair with a woman named Judy Penney that began when she was 15 years old.

In a declaration filed Friday, the author says Conjuring producer Tony DeRosa-Grund "has been controlling this litigation from the start." DeRosa-Grund has been locked in his own ugly legal battle with Warners for years.

Brittle says the producer was actively involved in his case, including hiring lawyers, funding the litigation, drafting the complaints, responding to discovery and instructing attorneys not to produce documents. (Read the full declaration here.)

"Based on a review of text messages between Mr. DeRosa-Grund and my attorney, I understand that he even threatened my attorneys that if they sent information from me without him seeing it first they would be fired," says Brittle in the declaration. "When my attorney informed Mr. DeRosa-Grund that I was the client, and needed to approve discovery responses, Mr. DeRosa-Grund responded: 'Good, then get Gerald the [sic] fucking Pay you' and then stated 'Oh yeah he doesn't have a pot to piss [sic] and I for~ot. [sic]'"

New Line is currently seeking sanctions against DeRosa-Grund in a Texas litigation for not cooperating with discovery requests. 

Brittle also claims DeRosa-Grund told the author not to turn over certain emails to his own lawyers. "He further told me that if certain communications and documents were revealed, I would face serious repercussions, including being sued by him or others," says Brittle.

DeRosa-Grund on Wednesday sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement, which is posted in full below, alleging the claims are designed to deflect attention away from THR's story about Penney.

Mr. Brittle was never a "puppet". On the contrary, it was he that in exchange for a revised agreement he entered into, with our company in 2015 for an option on his life rights, and The Demonologist book, demanded that Evergreen be contractually obligated to provide legal financing and services to him for his own personal litigation against New Line. These documents have already been produced.

New Line's campaign against me and Evergreen is pure retribution because I was the whistle-blower that put New Line on notice regarding the sexual predation by Ed Warren and the then 15 year old Judy Penny, to which the studio not only did not investigate those claims, they said they did not want to know.

Since I first apprised New Line of this in 2013 (and other related incidents of sexual predation related to the Warren family) they have then and continue to "paint" me and Evergreen with a knowingly inaccurate brush. They have and engaged engaged in litigation with us to keep those stories out of public view. (We fully expect stories engineered to blunt the story of Ed Warren's sexual predation that THR had the courage to publish after a month of investigating it. People should take baseless stories for what they are, inaccurate and designed to deflect the attention from the real story, Ed Warren and the cover up of his sexual predation and pedophilia.)

For proof you only have to go as far as the studio's JAMS claims against us which include, a claim that we violated our producer agreement restriction on doing independent publicity when we encouraged Ms. Penny, the victim of Mr. Warrens sexual predation to come forward and tell her story.

Not only do people in power manufacture false accusations against those very victims who make accusations of sexual predation and similar wrongdoing, they also do it to those that try to help these victims in order to keep it all in the dark and away from public scrutiny.

Dec. 13, 4:25 p.m. Updated with a statement from DeRosa-Grund.