Court upholds jury verdict in favor of Don Johnson

A California appellate court upheld a jury verdict in favor of Don Johnson for his company’s 50% ownership of “Nash Bridges,” but cut the award down to $15 million plus interest.

The 2-1 Court of Appeal decision, issued Monday, rejected a claim by series producer Rysher Entertainment that Johnson’s suit was barred by the statute of limitations. Yet the judges found that jurors who rendered a verdict in July 2010 should not have added 5% interest to the original damage award of $15 million, which brought the damage amount to $23.2 million. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael L. Stern later granted Johnson interest on that total jury award, calculated at 10% annually from May 22, 1998.

The appellate ruling said Johnson could still collect interest of 10% on the $15 million award but from July 12, 2010. With the court reaffirming that he has a half-ownership, he can continue to collect profits as the show runs in syndication and on cable.

“?’Nash Bridges’ has been my baby since its inception, and I’ve fought for years for my interest under our contractural agreement,” Johnson said in a statement issued by his attorney, Mark Holscher of Kirkland & Ellis. “I am gratified that the court of appeals agreed with both the jury and Judge Stern that I am the co-owner of the ‘Nash Bridges’ series.”

Before “Nash Bridges” premiered in 1996, Johnson negotiated a contract that gave him a 50% interest in the series’ copyright. The appellate court agreed with his interpretation of the contract, rather than Rysher’s contention that it should have been calculated by an adjusted gross receipts provision in which the series operated at a substantial deficit.

The appellate court also found that 2929 Entertainment and Qualia Capital, which purchased the assets of Rysher, are alter egos of Rysher and liable for damages.

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