×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

DC Comics wins in Superman ruling

Federal appellate court rejects Toberoff effort

Warner Bros.’ DC Comics wing has scored a legal win in its long-running battle over control of Superman rights with the estates of Man of Steel creators Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster.

In a ruling issued Tuesday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied an effort by attorney Marc Toberoff, who reps the Siegel and Shuster heirs, to assert attorney-client privilege over documents that DC Comics claims are key to the litigation involving control of the famed superhero.

The three-judge panel ruled unanimously that Toberoff cannot assert the privilege because he had already disclosed the documents to the government as part of its criminal investigation of a lawyer, David Michaels, who briefly worked for Toberoff “before absconding with copies of several documents from the Siegel and Shuster files,” the ruling states. The appellate judges later amended their opinion and made clear that “there has been no finding of wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Michaels.”

The documents in question are a letter and other materials that Michaels sent to execs at DC Comics in an effort to “detail Toberoff’s alleged master plan to capture Superman for himself,” the ruling states. DC Comics execs gave the material to an outside attorney but then sought to obtain them as evidence through discovery motions in two other ongoing Superman cases.

Toberoff fought the disclosure, spurring DC Comics to file a separate lawsuit against him in 2010. Toberoff has maintained that while the documents were given to federal prosecutors as part of their investigation of Michaels, that decision amounted to a “selective waiver” of attorney-client privilege. Last year, a district court ruled in favor of the disclosure of the documents to DC Comics.

Warner Bros. believes the documents are central to proving its assertion that the Siegel and Shuster heirs had reached a settlement agreement with the studio in 2001, before Toberoff entered the picture as their lawyer and a prospective producer of future Superman properties. Appeals in that case, filed by DC Comics in 2004, are pending before the 9th Circuit.

The disclosure ruling comments on Toberoff’s dual role as a lawyer and business partner of the Siegel and Shuster heirs.

“The ethical and professional concerns raised by Toberoff’s actions will likely occur to many readers, but they are not before this court,” it states.

In a statement, Toberoff said: “We cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s office to enable them to investigate the theft from our law firm of the Siegels and Shuster’s privileged documents. We are disappointed in today’s decision which holds that such cooperation with law enforcement by the victims of a privacy crime, itself waives privilege as to stolen documents. However, nothing in this ruling or the documents at issue will affect the merits of this case. We are considering our options as to the ruling, and will continue to vigorously defend our clients’ rights.”

More Film

  • David Picker dead

    David Picker, Studio Chief Who Acquired James Bond Novels for UA, Dies at 87

    David Picker, who headed United Artists, Paramount and Columbia’s motion picture divisions and was known for forging relationships with groundbreaking filmmakers and material, died Saturday in New York. He was 87 and had been suffering from colon cancer. MGM tweeted, “We are saddened to hear that a member of the United Artists family has passed [...]

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International

    'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International Box Office With $30 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” led the way at the international box office, summoning $30 million when it opened in 71 foreign markets. The supernatural thriller collected $26.5 million in North America for a global start of $56.5 million. “La Llorona,” based on the Mexican folklore about the Weeping Woman, [...]

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as one of the most reliable box office draws. Even so, [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content