June 10, 2010
Judge rules A&E mishandled ‘Steven Seagal: Lawman' claim
By Eriq Gardner
EXCLUSIVE: In a pretty extraordinary move, a New York District Court has slapped A&E Television Networks for filing in “bad faith” a lawsuit seeking to clarify who generated the idea behind “Steven Seagal: Lawman.”
Last August, Genuine Entertainment and The Idea Factory sent A&E Television Networks a demand letter over the show. The letter entailed allegations that the idea behind the reality program was stolen and that A&E had pushed them aside to work directly with Seagal. Attached to the letter was a draft complaint, and Genuine gave A&E ten days to settle the dispute or face a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court. According to Neville Johnson, his clients had every intention of trying to resolve the dispute outside the courtroom.
Instead, just four days after receiving the letter, A&E Television Networks beat its adversaries to the courtroom, seeking declaratory relief in New York District Court. The next day, Genuine Entertainment and The Idea Factory filed their own suit in Los Angeles.
Thursday, New York District Judge Richard Holwell dismissed A&E's action. “The action's purpose was, quite obviously, to shift adjudication of the claims from a California state court to a New York federal court,” he writes.
The decision follows a similar decision last October by a LA Superior Court judge that A&E acted in bad faith by trying to forum shop. In doing so, the judge declined to stay the case. The case will now be heard in Los Angeles.
A&E declined comment.