Friday, May 28, 2010

Motion Pictures and Posttrial Motions

Professor Shaun Martin has an interesting post on his California Appellate Report blog.

In Ladd v. Warner Bros., the 2/3 affirmed a jury verdict for producer Alan Ladd Jr. on his claim Warner Bros. breached its good faith covenant by packaging Ladd’s popular movies with its own, lesser-known films; selling the packages to cable outlet; and using the “straight-line” method to allocate royalties equally among the packaged films – even though Ladd’s titles were the real draw.

Or, as my colleague Jake puts it, the judiciary has finally recognized the true value of the Police Academy franchise.

More helpfully, Professor Martin postmortems the posttrial motion strategy:

“After Warner Brothers loses, its lawyers file a motion for new trial and a JNOV. But then they deliberately ‘go for broke’ by withdrawing the new trial motion. Leaving the trial judge with an option only of entering a judgment in its favor or upholding the verdict. No new trial.

“Gutsy. But wrong. At the hearing, the trial judge recognizes that Warner Brothers makes some good arguments about the jury's verdict and the evidence at trial. But states that while these deficiencies might well justify a new trial, Warner Brothers withdrew that motion, and there's technically enough evidence to support the verdict, so denies the JNOV motion and upholds the verdict.

“And the Court of Appeal affirms.