"Walking Dead creator Frank Darabont and CAA will head to trial against AMC in a massive lawsuit over the mega-hit zombie series after a New York judge largely denied summary judgment motions on Monday," THR reports. "The decision represents somewhat of a favorable development for AMC, which is alleged to have cheated profit participants through self-dealing agreements and underhanded accounting. The judge in the case denied Darabont's bid to declare that when AMC imputes license fees, it must be fair-market value. The judge sees a fact question with respect to contractual interpretation of the key issue in the case and so the ultimate determination will eventually be tried before a jury."
Judge Eileen Bransten wrote, "The court concludes that the agreement is susceptible to the interpretation urged by both parties in regard to whether the Affiliate Transaction Provision applies to the imputed license fee and is therefore ambiguous," according to the report. As a result, the lawsuit is headed to trial.
Darabont and his reps have maintained a five-year lawsuit against AMC regarding profits for the series. They filed suit in 2013 claiming they were denied their rightful share of profits generated by The Walking Dead. Darabont and his group claim AMC, by way of creative accounting, made the hit series seem less valuable than it actually is as a means of cutting him out of profits he's contractually owed.
AMC had previously replaced their lawyers in the midst of the lawsuit seeming to sway in a less desirable direction. Their new team at Gibson Dunn has argued that the contract amounts to a factual question that this all should go to trial. As a result, Bransten's decision to send the lawsuit there, marks a win for the network.
"Darabont asserted that since the second season of Walking Dead was produced within budget and on schedule, AMC was required to negotiate with Darabont to be showrunner on the third season of the series," the report reads. "AMC responded that his negotiation rights didn't survive his termination and would run counter to a 'pay or play' provision of his contract."
For now, Bransten remains quiet on a claim dealing with Talking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead.
Both sides of the dispute have commented on the trial heading to court.
Both sides provided comment about the development.
"We are pleased that the Court denied AMC's motion for summary judgment as to every key claim in Plaintiffs' case," said Dale Kinsella, attorney for Darabont's team. "We look forward to proceeding to trial on Plaintiffs' claims, which now exceed a quarter billion dollars."
"We are very pleased with today's decision," says AMC attorney Orin Snyder. "It is a victory. The judge denied plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment outright on the fundamental issue in the case. The judge also awarded summary judgment to AMC on four of plaintiffs' claims, throwing them out completely. We now look forward to trial where we are confident we will prevail. This lawsuit is nothing but a money grab by CAA and the greedy Hollywood lawyers who feed off talent and are the driving force behind this suit. These plaintiffs have been paid millions and millions of dollars on The Walking Dead, which AMC turned into a hit after taking a risk on a show that no other network wanted. Now the same sophisticated Hollywood lawyers and agents who negotiated plaintiffs' deal want to re-write the contract many years later to extract even more money. A jury will see right through this scheme. We appreciate the judge's careful and thorough review of the arguments and look forward to victory at trial."
The Walking Dead returns for the back half of its ninth season on February 10, 2019 at 9 pm ET. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season in 2019. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter and watch ComicBook.com's After The Dead each Sunday night following new episodes.