Elie Samaha, the filmproducer who lost a $106m jury verdict last June in Los Angeles federal courtin a fraud and breach-of-contract suit filed by Germany's IntertainmentLicensing, has filed for a rematch.
On Monday this week,attorneys for Samaha filed a motion for a new trial, claiming thatIntertainment's former chairman Rudiger "Barry" Baeres and his lawyers at theMunich-based company concealed "bad evidence" in the discovery phase of thelitigation, and that the alleged concealment allowed Baeres and hisIntertainment cohorts to "lie without consequence at trial."
The evidence that Samahaclaims he's unearthing is coming straight from a troubled arbitrationproceeding between Intertainment and Samaha's entertainment lender, ComericaBank.
The central issue of theFranchise-Intertainment litigation was whether Baeres was deceived by Samahaand Franchise's admitted production budget inflation that caused Intertainmentto overpay for the European rights to the Franchise slate of pictures, andwhether Baeres agreed to allow the inflations knowing that Intertainment wouldre-inflate the budgets even more when Baeres sold the Franchise slate toEuropean sub-distributors.
Samaha's attorneys nowclaim that they have "discovered letters that were in Intertainment'spossession all along and that were sent personally by (or explicitly directedby) Baeres to potential buyers, proving he lied [at trial]."
At the six week trial lastyear, what was notable was the almost total absence of documents, faxes oremails that contained any evidence that Baeres was signing off or okaying anyof the myriad transactions between Intertainment and Franchise on the 20-plusfilms the two companies co-produced in 1999 and 2000.
In the court papers filedthis week, Samaha's attorneys claim to have come across 12,000 pages ofdocuments and 27,000 emails that Intertainment allegedly should have producedin the discovery phase of the litigation. According to Samaha's courtmotion, the new documents show that Baeres was actively involved in pumping upthe budgets on the Franchise slate to Intertainment's sub-distributors, thisafter Samaha had pumped the budget on the Franchise end.
Intertainment's attorney,Scott Edelman, could not be reached at time of going to press. RichardSchirtzer, one of the attorneys for Samaha, said that the chances of a newtrial being granted on what is often a common claim in American courts ofevidence hiding "are slim...but the evidence that's coming to light is verycompelling."
The new documents thatIntertainment is finally producing result from discovery motions filed byComerica Bank lawyers in Intertainment's arbitration action in which thecompany is asking for $100 million in damages resulting from bank officersMorgan Rector and Jared Underwood's alleged involvement in the budget pumpingcommitted by Samaha and Franchise.
In the midst of thisarbitration proceeding, two completion bond companies have reached out of courtsettlements from claims from Intertainment that the bond companies conspired tohelp Franchise defraud Intertainment in the alleged budget pumping scheme. Theinsurance company for bankrupt Worldwide Film Completions agreed to payIntertainment $5 million last year, and Film Finances agreed to settle in March2005.
Steve Ransohoff, the head ofthe American arm of Film Finances, declined comment, but a source close to thearbitration proceedings between the bank and Intertainment said the figure thatFilm Finances settled for was $1.5 million.
"At the end of the day, Intertainment spent $20 million inlegal fees to get $6.5 million," said the source. "Comerica is not going to paya cent, Franchise has no money, and now the entire judgment against Franchisecould be thrown out because Intertainment hid documents."
At time of going to press,the arbitration between Comerica and Intertainment remains halted as both sideswrangle over the documents that Intertainment recently produced under Comericalawyers' discovery motions.