Ruling says claims too speculative

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has thrown out several of producer Alan Ladd’s claims against Warner Bros., leaving only a portion of his allocation claim standing.

Judge Ricardo Torres ruled Monday that Ladd’s claims of damages over his credits omission on a number of DVDs were too speculative, and dismissed Ladd’s claim over profit participation on “Blade Runner,” ruling that it breached a prior settlement agreement with the studio.

Ladd and his partner in The Ladd Co., Jay Kantor, are suing Warner for approximately $9 million, alleging that license fees for domestic and international TV and cable sales on pictures such as “Blade Runner” and “Chariots of Fire” were unfairly allocated. He was also suing for how his profit participation was calculated on “Blade Runner.”

The most emotional claim is that Ladd’s credit was dropped on DVD packages including “Chariots of Fire,” “Night Shift,” “The Right Stuff” and “Once Upon a Time in America.” Warner claims the omission was inadvertent.

At the close of Ladd’s case on Friday, Torres heard Warner’s motions for nonsuit, which led to Monday’s rulings.

As for Ladd’s remaining allocation claim, the judge determined that damages would be limited to four years before the filing of the suit, because of statute of limitations issues. The remaining potential damages are difficult to calculate, but would be far less than the several million dollars Ladd originally sought.

Ladd’s case is believed to be the first allocation claim to come to trial. Once relatively rare, allocation claims — claims that when a group of films are licensed for sale, the stronger films in the package are unfairly shortchanged in the allocation of the revenue derived from the pact — are now quite common. Warner argues that these deals are individually negotiated with buyers. Furthermore, says the studio, it has no motive to lower the fee when 95% goes to the studio and 5% goes to the Ladd Co. as a profit participant.

Warner is expected to finish presenting its case by the end of the week, when it will go to the jury.

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