‘Jump’ judge backs Shelton

An L.A. Superior Court judge let stand last month’s $9.8 million jury award to producer-director Ron Shelton over profits to 20th Century Fox’s “White Men Can’t Jump” and denied the studio’s request for a new trial.

During the Tuesday-morning hearing before Judge Richard Kalustian, attorneys for Fox also lost a bid to have the damage award reduced.

The court’s ruling clears the way for an appeal by the studio’s attorneys, who have already posted the $14 million bond required to take the case to the appellate level. (A bond of 150% of the verdict is required before a defendant can lodge an appeal).

“The jury verdict was solidly based on overwhelming evidence of Fox’s manipulation of the financial records in order to deny (Shelton) the amounts due him. We expected (the judge) to deny Fox’s motions and we are gratified he did so,” Shelton’s attorney, Brian Lysaght, told Daily Variety.

Shelton claimed Fox promised him half of net profits from the 1992 film and said he was to receive some of the gross receipts. A jury voted 10-2 on April 1 to award him compensatory damages in the case. (Daily Variety, April 2).

No punitive damages were awarded.

Shelton was paid $2.5 million upfront for his work on “White Men Can’t Jump,” but didn’t receive any profits under the studio’s accounting system.

He sued the company last year, claiming his contract to write, direct and produce the film entitled him to some of the profits and gross receipts.

During the trial, Lysaght said the movie made $50 million, but the studio claims it lost $10 million.

The company countered that Shelton misunderstood the definition of net profits and gross receipts.

Fox attorney Louis Meisinger said the studio will “absolutely”‘ appeal the jury’s award.

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