‘Walking Dead’ Lawsuit: Judge Declines to Rule on Motion for Sanctions Against CAA, Legal Team

A New York Supreme Court judge declined to rule on a motion by AMC to impose sanctions against CAA and its legal team in their litigation over Frank Darabont’s profit participation from “The Walking Dead.”

Eileen Bransten instead said that the parties should “meet and confer” regarding the discovery dispute, and, if the situation is not resolved, they should take it to Michael Tempesta, the “discovery master” appointed in the litigation.

In a filing on Thursday, AMC contended that a senior CAA executive purported to be an attorney providing legal counsel in the case really was not.

Darabont, the creator of the series, and his agent at CAA accuse AMC of self-dealing, depriving him of his full percentage of the profits from the show. The lawsuit was filed in New York Supreme Court.

AMC, in a motion seeking sanctions against CAA and its counsel, contended that the agency has been identifying one of its senior executives, Jon Ringquist, as an inhouse attorney but that he has admitted that he is not. They claim that, as part of the discovery process in the litigation, Ringquist has been provided access to confidential AMC trade secrets and that CAA has asserted attorney-client privilege to stymie the discovery of his communications.

In a letter to Bransten, CAA’s New York attorney said that AMC failed to follow proper procedure in resolving discovery disputes, and that “AMC’s shameful rush to file something publicly for press purposes is itself sanctionable.” They also called it a “tempest in a teapot,” noting that AMC’s former head of business affairs, Marci Wiseman, is listed in a protective order as a person who can view confidential documents even though she no longer works for the company.

“Notably, Mr. Ringquist and Ms. Wiseman occupied parallel positions in the business affairs units of their respective companies (and there are the same competitive advantage issues for both parties),” wrote the attorney, Jerry D. Bernstein of Blank Rome. Wiseman is an attorney.

But Marc Kasowitz, attorney for AMC, said in a statement that “CAA’s egregious misrepresentations regarding Mr. Ringquist’s status as a supposed lawyer were made to Justice Bransten, so we brought this important matter to her direct attention.

“We are pleased to follow her direction and have the Special Master in this case rule on our request for sanctions against CAA. It is notable that CAA does not deny that they have misrepresented Mr. Ringquist’s status as a lawyer and that CAA and Ringquist levered this lie to avoid discovery and obtain access to AMC’s most sensitive information and trade secrets.”

The Darabont-CAA lawsuit contends that Darabont did not receive any money from the show’s profits until after the litigation was filed in 2013, after which AMC changed its accounting practices.

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