The Case Lives On, But Not For This Plaintiff
Here is a case about the attempt to re-make a movie. It did not go well. Plaintiff had invested $ 4.5 million in order to put together, or remake, or work with "Dance Cuba" She retained Davis & Gilbert to handle the transfer of ownership. The transfer went well, but someone forgot to take care of obtaining consents from a number of "sampled" copyright holders.
Candela Entertainment, Inc. v Davis & Gilbert, LLP 2014 NY Slip Op 30977(U) April 11, 2014
Sup Ct, New York County Docket Number: 150553/2011 Judge: Eileen Bransten tells us the story of what happens when a corporate individual (usually an entrepreneur) sues along with the company.
"Relevant to the instant litigation, significant portions of the "Dance Cuba" film incorporate copyrighted materials for which Illume had signed licensing agreements. (Am. Compl. . 15.) These licensing agreements required that Illume obtain consent from the licensors before any transfer of intellectual property rights could be made. (Am. Compl. 19.) While there is a dispute as to whose duty it was to obtain the consents, the Complaint alleges that no licensor ever granted consent to any assignment. (Am. Compl. 19.) The Amended Complaint further alleges that Defendant's failure to advise that obtaining consents was necessary created a cloud on the film's title, which prevented Plaintiffs from seeking new investors and completing the film. (Am. Compl. 3.) Plaintiffs filed the Amended Complaint on June 10, 2013, asserting that Defendant's "failure to properly understand and advise Plaintiffs as to the structure, the transactions and the effect of the documents utilized in the transactions," constituted (i) negligence, (ii) breach of contract, and (iii) breach of fiduciary duty. Defendant now seeks dismissal of the Amended Complaint. Plaintiffs oppose. "
"As a threshold matter, to maintain a cause of action for legal malpractice, the plaintiff must plead the existence of an attorney-client relationship. See, e.g., AG Capital Funding Partners, L.P. v. State St. Bank & Trust Co., 5 N.Y.3d 582, 595 (2005) (affirming dismissal of legal malpractice claim for failure to plead facts showing actual privity, near privity, or an exception to privity). In order to defeat a motion to dismiss, a party must plead facts showing the privity of an attorney-client relationship, or a relationship so close as to approach privity. Cal. Pub. Employees Ret. Sys. v. Shearman & Sterling, 95 N.Y.2d 427, 434 (2000) (affirming dismissal of legal malpractice claim for failure to plead actual privity or near privity). t. Newport Cannot Establish Express Privity While it is undisputed that D&G represented Candela, Newport alleges that she too was represented by D&G. Newport argues that privity existed because she signed D&G's retainer agreement. Defendant argues that documentary evidence refutes the Amended Complaint's claims of express privity between Newport and D&G, and thus Newport fails to state a cause of action for legal malpractice. Defendant argues that there can be no privity because the retainer agreement is addressed solely to Candela and that Newport signed all pertinent documents simply on behalf of Candela. When dealing with issues of contract interpretation, courts must construe the
agreement according to the parties' intent, and the best evidence of what parties to a written agreement intended is what was said in the writing. See, e.g., Slatt v. Slatt, 64 N.Y.2d 966, 966 (1985). Courts may not fashion a new contract for the parties under the guise of interpreting the writing. See, e.g., Tanking v. Port. Auth. of N. Y. & N.13 N.Y.3d 486, 490 (2004) (holding that a court may not "rewrite the contract and supply a specific obligation the parties themselves did not spell out") "