Since former Gaumont International Television boss Katie O’Connell Marsh took her old employers to court in early 2018 over potentially millions of dollars in contested profit participation, the parties have been slicing away at each other with a barrage of documents full of disqualification motions, confidentiality violations rumbles and protective orders.
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Well, with a trial on the books for August next year, the Stateside subsidiary of the oldest film company in the world brought a canon to that knife fight on Friday in the form of a biting breach of contract and fraud cross-complaint on the docket in Los Angeles Superior Court.
“Gaumont will not sit idly by while its reputation – built up over the course of 129 years – is attacked without cause,” declares the multi-claim filing in LASC today against the former CEO who ran the Narcos and Hannibal producing US arm of the company for its first five years. “Marsh, her new company, their backers and enablers have engaged in a clear and continued campaign of wrongful conduct. They will be held to account.”
Industry vet O’Connell Marsh was the first employee of the LA-based division nearly a decade ago. She held the reigns from Gaumont International Television’s inception in 2010 until the now Platform One Media chief was suddenly pink slipped in a corporate re-org in 2015 a year before the second expected re-upping of her three year contract was set to occur.
Also, this is not the first response Gaumont has filed in the case. A previous move was trimmed by an state judge. However, as today is the latest deadline for both post-mediation sides to get their latest version of events on the docket – and Gaumont look to be first to file.
“Not content to have absconded with Gaumont’s confidential information and interfered with its partner, Marsh found an attorney, her current litigation counsel, together with whom they have deliberately and continually worked to damage Gaumont with even more false and defamatory claims and this ill-advised lawsuit in which she alleges that she is entitled to tens of millions of dollars because she claims she has a profit participation definition which, if believed, would be the best definition in the history of the television industry,” the somewhat redacted 32-page injunction and wide-spread damages action asserts. BTW – the “partner” in question is Evolution Media Capitol and that attorney is the much employed John Berlinski of Kasowitz Benson Torres and formerly of NBCUniversal.
Claiming that she essentially put Gaumont in the game when it comes to American TV, and noting they hadn’t produced any new series in the first two years since her exit, O’Connell Marsh alleged in her January 2018 suit that she took a smaller salary to receive around 2.5% of Modified Adjusted Gross Receipts on the shows she oversaw.
The ex-DreamWorks Animation exec also said this was baked into her severance agreement. Yet, O’Connell Marsh, as her own filings refer to the initial plaintiff, stated that while “Gaumont has received substantial gross receipts from the projects Ms. O’Connell Marsh’s developed, Ms. O’Connell Marsh has yet to receive a single MAGR payment in connection with any of the series she brought to the screen.”
Not so much, say Gaumont and their lawyers at Plonsker Law LLP and Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.In fact, the plaintiffs in the just filed cross-complaint say that mega-MAGR pay-out was never a part of O’Conner Marsh’s 2010 deal nor her 2013 renegotiation – and she wants to keep that out of the lawsuit or rather now, lawsuits. “Her efforts to prove the unprovable include preventing witnesses such as the attorneys that negotiated her MAGR definition from testifying about their own interpretation of her MAGR definition, which is believed to be consistent with Gaumont’s.”
Definitely not so much, says Katie O’Connell Marsh’s lawyer in response to today’s new cross-complaint.
“Gaumont’s frivolous allegations are a transparent attempt to distract from the very real claims that Gaumont intentionally cheated the person who developed what to date—four years after her departure—remain Gaumont’s only successful television series,” asserts John Berlinski
Before this latest filing by Gaumont and a delay on the trial kicking off on October 21, the parties were set to be in court on October 30 for a motion on summery judgement. That too has been taken off the calendar and now both sides are going to be face-to-face on December 3 for a hearing on the latest motion for a protective order – or not.