The former CEO has struck back in an escalating war and filed a $55m lawsuit against Worldview and its principals, citing breach of fiduciary duty and defamation and seeking to liquidate the company.
The move comes on the eve of the release of Worldview-backed Birdman and follows Worldview’s own suit lodged last week against Woodrow, claiming he embezzled funds and defrauded the company to the point where it was left “impoverished and imperiled.”
Woodrow’s lawyers filed papers in New York on October 15 that cite as defendants Worldview Entertainment, Worldview COO Molly Conners, Worldview backers Maria Cestone and Sarah Johnson, as well as Worldview investors Prospect Point Capital and Roseland Ventures.
The legal action seeks damages for defamation and breach of fiduciary duty and requests the recovery of personal property confiscated on the day Woodrow was barred from entering the corporate offices leading to his “wrongful suspension as CEO” in May 2014.
The claim also seeks the reinstatement of Woodrow’s executive producer or producer credits on the upcoming films Child 44, Strangerland, Triple Nine, Tulip Fever and an untitled Warren Beatty drama. A spokesperson for Worldview could not be reached for comment.
Woodrow states he launched the company in 2007 and that under his stewardship as CEO, Worldview grew into “a leading independent motion picture studio that finances, produces and acquires theatrical quality feature films for worldwide distribution”, secured more than $125m in financing and financed and produced more than 20 “major motion pictures.”
The former investment banker and money manager, who held positions at Prospect Point Capital, Citigroup Global Markets, Oppenheimer & Co and CIBC World Markets, says he was denied access to the Worldview offices on May 27 2014 and suspended with pay for 30 days following allegations by Worldview that he had engaged in unspecified professional misconduct and misappropriated funds.
The claim says that during a 30-day period following his suspension, “Defendants and their employees, agents or representatives accessed his personal email account on at least 108 occasions.” The claim asserts this was done to interfere with attorney client relationships and business relationships.
According to the filed papers, Prospect Point Capital owns “a 20% membership interest in Worldview” and Roseland Ventures is “a 55% member of Worldview.” The claim states that Woodrow and Cestone each own 50% of Prospect Point Capital and Roseland Ventures.
The claim also states that Johnson owns a 20% stake in Worldview and Conners a 5% stake.
In a statement Woodrow said: “I have stood by patiently and quietly over the last four-and-a-half months while baseless and meritless claims were made against me, often publicly.
“With the filing of this lawsuit against Worldview Entertainment and its principals today, I am happy and relieved to know that my story will finally be heard in a court of law and the truths pertaining to the operation of Worldview will come to light.
“It’s a shame that Worldview’s most successful film to date, Birdman, a legitimate Oscar contender, is being released the same week that we find ourselves engaged in a lawsuit.
“Instead of directing our attention, focus, and resources toward this amazing film, we are instead engaged in a legal battle. It’s all very unfortunate considering that my design for Worldview from the onset was to make profitable and relevant films.”