Two aspiring show creators launched a lawsuit against TruTV today for supposedly lifting their idea for a series about shoplifters. In their suit (read it here) Harry Dunn and Steven Bloch say that in March 2008 they pitched TrueTV a show called Hands Off The Merchandise about identifying and catching shoplifters for retailers. Actually, the duo, who say they came up with the idea for the show, didn’t actually engage with the network. Producers Scott Hallock and Kevin Healey, with whom Dunn and Bloch signed a collaboration agreement, did that for them. In 2009, after various meetings and “enthusiasm,” as the suit puts it, on the network’s part, TruTV told Hallock and Healey that they were going to pass on the idea. The producers passed the bad news onto Bloch and Dunn.
In February 2012, TruTV ran a special called Caught Red Handed. The network plans to air a series of the same title starting on November 6. “Caught Red Handed follows a team of undercover store detectives as they help large stores hunt down the boldest and most cunning shoplifting suspects,” says the TruTV website. “The idea, concept and format of the CRH Special and the CRH Series are identical to and indistinguishable from the HOTM Concept, which was created, developed and is owned in its entirety by Plaintiffs,” says the plaintiff’s complaint. Dunn and Bloch want the court to issue an injunction to stop Caught Red Handed from going to air right away. The suit cites a number of counts including breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. In their desire for a jury trial after an injunction is granted, Dunn and Bloch are seeking a full accounting from TruTV plus unnamed punitive, compensatory, and exemplary damages. They also want any profits the network may have made from the as-yet unaired series and all legal fees and “other and further relief as the Court deems equitable.” Hallock and Healey, whose production company is behind Betty White’s Off Their Rockers and Syfy’s Scare Tactics, are not named as defendants. Bloch and Dunn are represented by Randall Fink of LA’s the Law Offices of Randall Carlyle Fink.