How a production company can be both plaintiff and defendant in a lawsuit

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How a production company can be both plaintiff and defendant in a lawsuit

Fri Feb 26, 2010 @ 12:17PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Shannons-Rainbow-movie-Pittsburgh There aren't many lawsuits where a party is listed as both plaintiff and defendant. But leave it to litigation-happy Hollywood to find a way.

In a new lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court, producer Joseph Di Palma claims that a Utah-based production company called SummitWorks breached a contract by failing to distribute the inspirational drama "Shannon's Rainbow" in the U.S.

Di Palma says he invested $1 million in the film based on SummitWorks principal Frank Johnson's stated credits as a TV director. Di Palma claims he later learned that Johnson had not directed eight years of the CBS series "Touched by an Angel," as he was told, but rather just three episodes. (Note to Di Palma: A quick check of IMDb could have cleared up any confusion.)

The plaintiff claims that SummitWorks "squandered" his money by failing to distribute the film in 800 domestic theaters. Instead, the film has been released only in foreign markets.

So how did a production company end up on both sides of the case?
As a result of the lawsuit, the corporation set up for the film, Shannon's Rainbow LLC, is now suing itself along with SummitWorks. A nice way of getting out of the responsibility for paying legal costs? We doubt it, but still interesting.

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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

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