href=”https://www.law360.com/ip/articles/1363671/#”>Frank G. Runyeon
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Law360, New York (March 10, 2021, 10:29 PM EST) —
AMC shocked the creator of “The Strolling Useless” in New York state courtroom Wednesday with a doomsaying movement to delay their in-person jury trial by a yr, warning of the possibly lethal toll the COVID-19 virus might precise on their households in the event that they tried the case in April.
In a contentious distant convention, counsel for AMC Networks Inc. sparred with attorneys for producer Frank Darabont, who accuses the corporate of shorting him greater than $280 million in earnings. AMC counsel employed dramatic imagery of vaccinated “silent carriers,” superspreader jurors “like a fast fireplace machine gun” within the courtroom and aged “scared witnesses” being compelled to fly in from California amid a state-mandated two-week quarantine.
“We predict the best factor to do on this drop-dead date is to declare that the trial is not going to proceed,” stated AMC counsel Orin Snyder, pointing to federal well being pointers and medical information stories. “There might be mass transmission of COVID” in New York Metropolis on the present trial begin date, he argued.
“There might be new variants, there might be deaths. Going to courtroom on April 26 might be Russian roulette,” Snyder stated. “All you want is one superspreader and our complete trial has Covid.”
The trial ought to be pushed again to the subsequent out there date, April 2022, he argued.
“That is about life and demise of witnesses and households,” Snyder stated. “It is a civil case about cash. No one’s life or liberty is at stake.”
AMC’s movement to delay the trial featured each proof of a medical necessity to delay and a constitutional argument that any jury seated on the time of the trial can be “skewed.”
Showing in his vacant courtroom by video hyperlink, New York State Supreme Court docket Justice Joel M. Cohen appeared delicate to AMC’s arguments however famous that New York has already introduced that civil trials might be steadily restarting March 22 all through the state and that he had not but made a last resolution on whether or not this trial would proceed.
“I take very significantly what you have stated,” an unmasked Justice Cohen stated whereas sitting beside his masked clerk. “The courtroom system is taking a number of precautions,” he added.
Jerry D. Bernstein, counsel for Darabont, slammed Snyder’s movement to delay trial saying their aspect was being “sandbagged” with no warning that such a movement was coming weeks earlier than voir dire. The attorneys repeatedly spoke over one another, leaving the decide to play referee.
“Choose, I’ve actually been affected person. I do know that Mr. Snyder thinks he is an epidemiologist. We’re not scientists!” Bernstein stated, amid crosstalk.
“Do not speak over different individuals or me,” Justice Cohen stated because the attorneys saved speaking over him.
“Mr. Bernstein, you are smiling and laughing. Persons are dying!” Snyder stated, scolding his opponent.
“Cease it. Actually, that is ridiculous,” Bernstein shot again.
“Guys, guys, guys,” Justice Cohen interjected, saying he did not assume anybody “was taking flippantly” the problems concerned with balancing well being dangers and pushing the trial again by a yr. “I do not assume its truthful to say that anybody of a probably completely different view does not care in regards to the critical points you are describing,” the decide stated.
Darabont’s authorized battle in opposition to AMC started after he developed “The Strolling Useless” in its preliminary years and served as its govt producer from 2010 to 2011. In 2013, Darabont, Ferenc Inc., Darkwoods Productions Inc. and his expertise company, Creative Artists Agency LLC, accused the community and its associates of utilizing shady accounting practices to drive down Darabont’s minimize of revenues from the favored zombie apocalypse tv present.
Darabont claims AMC Studios licensed the collection for broadcast to its company affiliate, AMC Community, utilizing an artificially low license price that drove down his share in breach of their contracts and cheated him out of greater than $280 million. Contract claims in two consolidated fits are presently set to head to a jury trial in April earlier than Justice Cohen.
At the start of the listening to and earlier than Snyder launched into his bid to delay trial, the decide and Bernstein had appeared to agree on including further alternate jurors to the courtroom — upping the overall to 4 as an alternative of two or three — with the decide describing how they’d be spaced all through the room.
“I do not assume we might get greater than 4, however I would definitely take into account as much as 4,” Justice Cohen stated.
On the shut of the listening to, the decide instructed the attorneys to proceed making ready for trial whereas he thought of AMC’s movement to delay.
Darabont and the opposite plaintiffs are represented by Jerry D. Bernstein and Nicholas R. Tambone of Blank Rome LLP and Dale F. Kinsella, Chad R. Fitzgerald and Aaron C. Liskin of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump LLP.
AMC and the opposite defendants are represented by Orin Snyder, Brian C. Ascher, Lee R. Crain, Scott A. Edelman and Ilissa Samplin of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
The case is Frank Darabont et al. v. AMC Community Leisure LLC et al., case quantity 650251/2018, within the Supreme Court docket of the State of New York, County of New York.
–Further reporting by Dorothy Atkins. Modifying by Andrew Cohen.
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