ABC took a hit this morning in Prospect Park’s multimillion-dollar legal action over licensed soaps All My Children and One Life To Live. The network was denied its motion to strike the part of the production company’s amended complaint in which Prospect Park asked to have the license agreement for the online shows extended and payments to ABC “excused” while the nearly year-old breach of contract suit for more than $100 million moves forward. The ruling came after a 50-minute hearing in LA Superior Court before Judge Robert Hess. Trial lawyer James Edward Maloney of Texas’ Andrews Kurth represented Prospect Park, while Susan Klein and Nuritsa Ksachikyan of LA’s Valle Makoff were there for ABC. “Prospect Park exercised its option — it produced an entire season of the series,” Klein argued early in the hearing. “It can’t ask the court to rewrite what the parties have negotiated.” Hess saw it differently: “After hearing the arguments from them and you, I’m going to let them leave it in,” he told Klein.
ABC filed the motion to strike on January 13 of this year, two months after Prospect Park filed its amended version of its initial April 2013 complaint seeking “at least $30 million in out-of-pocket losses and/or at least $95 million in lost profits” from the network. The November 13 amended complaint alleges that ABC has been breaking the licensing agreement, claiming the network inked long-term agreements with OLTL actors, killing off OLTL characters on loan to General Hospital and deliberately attacking Prospect Park’s efforts to continue AMC and OLTL online.
The licensing agreement ABC and Prospect Park first entered into in July 2011 — after the network cancelled the two long-running soaps — gave the production company 12 months to put together online versions of the shows. Prospect Park would then have the exclusive right to produced 15 seasons of each show. However, the agreement, which was amended in January 2012 after various delays, also said that if Prospect Park doesn’t produce the shows for 18 straight months then rights shall revert back to ABC. The network wants to hold by that deal. Prospect Park, which launched the series in April 2013 but suspended them after around 40 episodes, obviously does not.
Based on the results of today’s hearing, ABC now has 20 days to respond to Prospect Park’s amended complaint. The next hearing in the case on the court schedule is a conference-case management meeting set for March 13.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.