Friday, July 19, 2002
Hancock, Rothert & Bunshoft Partner Wins $30.5 Million Arbitration
By NAZANIN AGANGE, Staff Writer
Patrick A. Cathcart, a partner with Hancock, Rothert & Bunshoft, has won a $30.5 million arbitration award for two independent film producers against Village Roadshow Pictures, Inc.
Cathcart called the arbitration award, decided on July 5, a large judgement in any business litigation, but said it was justified because “the stakes were high.”
“This result is an extremely important victory for two independent movie producers who were victimized by a large, multi-national entertainment and motion picture production and distribution company,” he said in a statement.
After a year and a half of arbitration, the award now goes to Los Angeles Superior Court for confirmation. Barring an objection from Village Roadshow, Cathcart said he expected the award to take effect in early September.
Village Roadshow’s newly retained counsel, Marc Marmaro, of Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro, stressed that his clients would fight the decision.
“We disagree with the amount and are reviewing all options and will take the appropriate steps to have the award vacated,” he said.
The arbitration stemmed from a 1996 settlement Village Roadshow Pictures had reached with film producers Lance Hool and Charles Meeker.
Under the terms of that settlement, Village Roadshow had agreed to have Hool and Meeker produce two films, and ultimately a third, if the first two broke even with their $6 million-plus budgets. If Village Roadshow did not approve any projects Hool and Meeker presented, the company was under contract to assign them projects to produce.
The independent arbitrator reviewing the dispute, George E. Marshall, Jr., ruled that Village Roadshow and its Australian parent company, Village Roadshow Limited, entered into the 1996 agreement with no intention of fulfilling their obligations under the settlement.
Marshall found evidence that Gregory Coote, CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures, signed the settlement with knowledge of a future partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures—a move to making big budget pictures to which Hool and Meeker would not be assigned. The partnership with Warner Bros. became official in January of 1998 and has since produced “The Matrix,” “Miss Congeniality,” “Ocean’s Eleven” and other popular films.
The 1996 settlement originated from a deal Hool and Meeker had with the now-defunct Orion Pictures in 1994. The producers’ lawsuit claimed VRL misappropriated production rights to the first film of a 35-picture distribution deal that Hool and Meeker had with Orion, causing well over $100 million in losses, Cathcart said.
Cathart has been with Hancock since 1982 and founded the firm’s Los Angeles office in 1989. He has 25 years of experience in commercial litigation.
Marmaro is co-chair of Jeffer’s litigation department. He has 25 years of experience in business and commercial litigation and has represented many clients in the entertainment industry, including representing Metro Goldwyn Mayor to block Sony Entertainment from using the James Bond character.
Hool and Meeker were also represented by Hancock attorney Mikel Glavinovich, who specializes in business litigation and insurance issues.
Village Roadshow Pictures was represented by Samuel R. Pryor of Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan. Robert Dudnik, a partner with Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, represented VRL in Superior Court.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company