Insurance co. now duking it out with WB

'Hazzard' heads back to court

Chalk up another court case for the lawsuit-plagued surprise summer hit “Dukes of Hazzard.”

Insurer Executive Risk Indemnity sued Warner Bros. Tuesday, seeking to rescind the errors and omissions policy it issued to cover the film on the grounds that the studio and production company concealed claims against the film.

The suit, filed in L.A. Superior Court, alleges that at the time the policy was issued in October 2004, the studio knew that Gy Waldron, the creator and original writer of the “Dukes of Hazzard” television series had claims against the picture and that the producer of “Moonrunners,” the 1974 film on which the series was based, was claiming that while Warners owned the television rights, it didn’t own the underlying movie rights. The insurer also claims that Warner’s settlement of the “Moonrunners” suit this summer for an astounding $17.5 million was unreasonable and should not be covered by the policy.

A Warners spokesman said, “We have been talking to the insurance company for some time, exchanging information and discussing the issues, and we fully expected this matter to be resolved amicably. We are surprised and disappointed that they would take this unnecessary action.”

While Executive Risk is refusing to pay, the main insurer, which provided the blanket E&O coverage and paid the bulk of the claim, did not dispute coverage.

Attorneys for the insurer did not return a call Wednesday.

Warners settled the “Moonrunners” copyright suit in August after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction that would have derailed the opening of the film. Last month, Waldron sued in L.A. Superior Court, claiming that as the result of a prior settlement agreement, he is entitled to 6.5% of gross profits from the exploitation of the Dukes series, including the film. The film has grossed $77 million at the domestic box office.

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