'Dukes of Hazzard' suit lives to fight in South Dakota

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'Dukes of Hazzard' suit lives to fight in South Dakota

Mon Dec 07, 2009 @ 11:56AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

6a00d83451d69069e201157207d8e0970b-320wiWhen we last checked in on the long-running legal saga over "Dukes of Hazards" profits, a California federal court dismissed a bank's attempts to collect 6.5% of gross receipts from Warner Bros. over the TV show and spinoffs.

The writer of the TV series, Guy Waldron, had assigned his rights to a charitable trust, and the First National Bank in Sioux Falls brought the lawsuit as a trustee. The court dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction because the judge found the South Dakota trust was subject to potential control by Waldron, a resident of California, and federal courts are reserved for disputes from parties of different states.

A procedural obstacle like this, however, isn't enough to keep Warners' nemesis Marc Toberoff down for long. For the last few months, Toberoff have been fighting to reinstate the case.

In July, the Waldons executed a relinquishment of rights in the charitable trust. That didn't work. In August, the same California federal court ruled it wasn't satisfied that this was an enforceable modification to the trust agreement. 

So the plaintiffs went to a South Dakota circuit court to petition for a modification of the trust agreement. In October, the plaintiffs successfully got the South Dakota court to accept jurisdiction and modify the agreement so that Waldons could relinquish a financial interest in the trust.

Having made these moves, First National Bank is once again going after Warner Bros for millions of dollars in unpaid profits on claims of breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment.

Warners has strenuously denied liability.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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