A California Court of Appeal has upheld a $7.3 million judgment awarded to writer-producer Sandy Veith, who claimed “Northern Exposure” was based on a project he created. The opinion, presented Friday, allows Veith to recover the judgment, plus interest, which totals just south of $10 million.
The appellate court ruling follows an L.A. Superior Court jury verdict reached in 1994 that determined Veith was deprived of credit and payment for his role in creating the CBS-TV series about a New York doctor sent to a small rural town in Alaska.
“This is a tremendous victory for Sandy and for every other writer who has been in his position,” Veith’s attorney, Glen Kulik, told Daily Variety. “There is no way to adequately describe how difficult it is to endure the endless delays and to litigate against an adversary with all the resources on its side.”
The ruling closes the latest chapter on the 5-year-old litigation; three of which involved the appeal process. Universal never proffered a settlement; Veith’s initial complaint sought at least $2 million in damages.
While under contract in 1982 with Universal TV to develop programs, Veith delivered “Colletta,” a screenplay which was later marketed by Universal through the end of 1987.
Veith alleged that shortly after his agreement expired, Universal began developing “Northern Exposure” and sold it to CBS in 1989.
Joshua Brand and John Falsey produced the popular series, which is now in reruns. The pair were not named in the lawsuit.