Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
When a California appellate court recently reversed the remaining $20 million of an $80 million jury verdict awarded to film director Francis Ford Coppola, the ruling provided the latest in a series of stunning wins for Encino, Calif., appellate boutique Horvitz & Levy. The firm recently won a reversal of a $221 million punitive judgment verdict awarded in 1998 in a legal malpractice case. And in 2000, Horvitz & Levy attorneys won a reversal of a $405.4 million personal-injury judgment against five makers of cleaning solvents. In its latest victory, the firm was representing Warner Bros. Inc., which had been hit with an $80 million verdict in July 1998. The lawsuit had its origin in discussions between Coppola and Warner Bros. over. Coppola’s suggested remake of the Pinocchio story, using live action. The parties never agreed on compensation, and after 18 months of negotiations, Coppola notified Warner that he was withdrawing. Subsequently, Warner learned that Coppola was discussing a Pinocchio project with Columbia Pictures. In February 1994, Warner executive Steven Spira sent a letter to Columbia saying Warner had a pre-existing deal with Coppola. Coppola and Columbia entered into a contract to produce the movie, but Warner refused to relinquish its rights. Coppola then sued Warner Bros., charging that Warner’s refusal to relinquish its claims was wrongful interference with his Columbia contract. While a Pinocchio film was produced, neither Coppola nor Warner Bros. was involved, said Warner appellate counsel Frederic Cohen of Horvitz & Levy. In July 1998, a Los Angeles jury awarded Coppola $20 million in compensatory damages and $60 million in punitives. The punitives were thrown out. Coppola v. Warner Bros. Inc., BC 135198 (Los Angeles Co. Super. Ct.). In any appeal, Cohen said, “it’s essential to develop a theme that encapsulates what your arguments are. You have to distill the essence of the injustice and make that theme run through all the legal arguments.” In Coppola, he said, the central defense appellate theme was that “it made no sense for a company like Warner, which had been working on a film, to sit quietly while their partner walks off” to a competitor. “Warner’s conduct in asserting its interest was protected by litigation privilege and common-interest privilege,” he added. ARGUING PRIVILEGE Coppola alleged that Warner did not have a legally enforceable claim of rights in the Pinocchio project and the litigation privilege was inapplicable because Warner never filed suit. Warner countered, Cohen said, that “because Warner Bros. had a valid reason for asserting its interests,” it could claim the privilege protection. California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed with Warner, finding that its underlying claim of rights to any Coppola Pinocchio project may not have been enforceable but was “legally tenable,” and, “[t]herefore, Warner was at liberty to take whatever legal measures were available to protect and enforce that claim.” Coppola is expected to appeal.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.