The Walking Dead is coming to an end this year, and so it seems is most of the long-standing legal action by Robert Kirkman and other executive producers of the zombie apocalypse series against AMC.
In a final ruling Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel Buckley gutted most of the fight pitting Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert and fellow TWD EPs Charles Eglee and Glen Mazzara against former home of Mad Men. “Based upon the facts and evidence before the Court, the Court finds no triable issues of material fact as to Plaintiffs’ first cause of action for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” Buckley wrote in a partial summery judgment ruling today on the plaintiffs’ third amended complaint (read it here). “Accordingly, summary adjudication is GRANTED as to the first cause of action.”
A lot of this matter revolved around contesting definitions of modified adjusted gross receipts. aka MAGR. That didn’t fly high with Buckley in his second kick at this TWD can.
“Much of Plaintiffs’ argument related to the implied covenant claim is based upon the unsupported assumption that a benefit of their bargain was a positive MAGR, always resulting in contingent compensation, for each year,” the LASC judge said in his 18-page ruling . He added, “Plaintiffs do not cite any contractual language supporting this assumption and Plaintiffs agreed to be bound by Defendants’ MAGR term.”
Leaving some audit claims of the case first filed back in August 2017 intact, Buckley effectively has determined that AMC did not, as the EPs and former TWD showrunner Frank Darabont before them had asserted, rig their deals back in the show’s early days to ensure they were denied the vast profits the one-time blockbuster generated. “The Court agrees with Defendants that none of these categories of evidence are sufficient to raise a triable issue of fact that Defendants deprived Complaints of the benefit of their bargain or acted arbitrarily, irrationally, or malevolently such that a reasonable jury could find their conduct breached of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” Buckley wrote in his final ruling, which mirrors a non-ironic tentative ruling of April 1.
“Today’s ruling is a decisive blow to this overreaching case,” Orin Snyder, one of AMC’s primary attorneys, said today. “This is the second time the court has thrown out the plaintiffs’ main claims, and rejected their attempt to rewrite their contracts in search of an unjustified windfall.” The Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher lawyer added, “We are pleased with the court’s ruling, which leaves only narrow audit claims to be resolved at trial, where we are confident we will prevail.”
Now, nothing ever truly seems over in American courts when it comes to white-collar dust-ups, even if they do openly include flesh-eating walkers. However, coming off TWD comic creator Kirkman’s unsuccessful efforts at a 2020 mini-trial to resolve contract interpretations and Darabont settling his almost decade-long showdown last year for a cool $200 million and some stray rights, it’s hard to see how much further the EPs can take this one.
Or put another way, though there are several high-profile spinoffs in the works, The Walking Dead the mothershow is set to conclude the final eight episodes of its 11th and last season later this year. Even with the audit issues still alive and kicking for a trial, this Kirkman and company lawsuit may not be far behind.