'xXx' Lawsuit Against Vin Diesel Revived by Appeals Court

Producer George Zakk is suing for credit and compensation for 'xXx: Return of Xander Cage.'
George Kraychyk/Paramount Pictures
'xXx: Return of Xander Cage' (2017)

A lawsuit against Vin Diesel over xXx: Return of Xander Cage is back in action after a California appeals court on Monday reversed a decision that ended it three years ago. 

George Zakk, a producer of the original 2002 xXx film, in May 2016 sued the actor and Revolution Studios, claiming he was shut out of the sequel. Zakk worked with Diesel through his company One Race Films until 2007, and claims he's entitled to credit and payment on any sequels of films he helped create. (Diesel, One Race and The H Collective bought the rights to the xXx sequels from Revolution studios last April.)

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Doyle in May 2017 granted defendants' demurrer to Zakk's third amended complaint, finding Zakk’s added claim that multiple oral contracts existed, after previously alleging only one, was a sham pleading in attempt to “avoid the reach of the statute of frauds and a demurrer without leave to amend.” The statute demands that agreements regarding services that won't performed within a year of its making must be in writing. Doyle also found Zakk's quantum meruit claim was time-barred and dismissed his claim for promissory estoppel because he added it without leave of the court. Zakk appealed.

A California appeals court on Monday affirmed Doyle's ruling with respect to Zakk's promissory estoppel claim, but reversed it with respect to his other claims. In arriving at its decision, the court analyzed the claims from all versions of Zakk's complaints (which it regarded as true for the purposes of this appeal) and the related demurrers and rulings. Ultimately, it sided with Zakk.

It found that while Zakk's earlier versions of the complaint weren't as clear as most recent, he had previously alleged more than one contract and also that the statute of frauds does not apply.

"In short, we hold that Zakk’s allegation that he fully performed all of his obligations under the alleged oral or implied-in-fact contract was sufficient to take the contract out of the statute of frauds," writes justice Thomas Willhite, nodding to language in a treatise on the statute that states "all promises in the contract are within the Statute of Frauds until one party to the contract completes his performance." (Read the full decision, below.)

The court also revived his quantum meruit claim, finding the clock on his claim started when the xXx sequel was released in January 2017.