Fox does not have to pay $128 million in punitive damages to the creators and stars of Bones after a California judge ruled the network did not shortchange them on their share of profits, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Arbitrator Peter Lichtman levied one of the largest damages awards in Hollywood history against Fox earlier this year, finding that executives lied, cheated and committed fraud at the expense of the show's stars, Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz; executive producer Barry Josephson; and Kathy Reichs, who wrote the books upon which the series was based. They collectively sued in 2015 claiming they were shortchanged; the fight was subsequently moved to arbitration under the terms of their contracts.
Lichtman awarded the plaintiffs $179 million: $128 million in punitive damages, $32 million in compensatory damages, $10 million in prejudgment interest and more than $9 million in fees and costs.
After that, Fox challenged the punitive damages and argued that the studio's contracts expressly precluded an arbitrator from issuing such an award — which Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard Rico agreed with on Thursday.
Although Rico has not issued a full ruling explaining the reasoning behind his decision, the minute order states, "The motion to confirm the award is denied, the motion to correct the award is granted. Punitive damages shall be stricken from the award. The award will be corrected and confirmed as so modified."
Daniel Saunders, the attorney for Boreanaz, Deschanel and Reichs, said in a statement to THR that "today's decision in no way impacts the arbitrator's findings that our clients are owed more than $50 million for Fox's fraudulent and deceitful accounting. It deals only with the technical issue of whether our clients waived their right to receive punitive damages. As the arbitrator concluded, they did not — and we look forward to showing the Court of Appeal why it should reverse today’s ruling.”
Josephson's attorney Dale Kinsella said, "We respectfully and profoundly disagree with the trial court's order eliminating the punitive damages award against Fox. While the ruling contains no reasoning, we are confident that when the appellate court reviews the Award with the required deference, without regard to the trial court's finding, the original award will be reinstated."0comments
In a statement issued by Fox, the network said, "We are pleased with the Court's decision to strike punitive damages from the award and vindicating our position. We look forward to concluding the litigation."
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