Once again, Judge Judy finds herself on the other side of the bench with a new breach-of-contract complaint filed against the top TV judge and CBS. While the jury-trial seeking suit from Kaye Switzer and the trust of the late Sandi Spreckman doesn’t specify damages, it does state that the plaintiffs are owed $4.75 million from the $95 million sale of Judge Judy to the House of Moonves in August.
Similar to the big-bucks legal action that Rebel Entertainment filed in March 2016 over profits from the long-running syndicated court show, this move is built on decades-old contracts and their legacy in today’s media landscape. The defendants in the new suit are Scheindlin, CBS Corp, CBS Studios and Big Ticket Television.
In the seven-count document filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), the plaintiffs note that in early 2015, “Big Ticket and the CBS Defendants, while negotiating with Judge Judith Sheindlin for continued episodes of the Judge Judy show, negotiated for the transfer of the Library to Judge Judith Sheindlin. The transfer by the Producers (as defined above) was made subject to the rights of Participants. Accordingly, Plaintiffs did not receive compensation for the sale/transfer but were to receive revenue from any airing or sale of !he episodes.”
It then adds: “On or about August 8, 2017, it was announced that Defendant Sheindlin sold the Library to CBS Television Distribution for a sales price ‘over $95,000,000.’ None of the Defendants have compensated the Plaintiffs for their portion of the sales proceeds. Nothing in any of the contracts would allow for a second sale of the Library to be made “subject to the rights of Participant”. That was a provision that only applied to the Producers, defined as ‘Big Ticket Pictures, Inc., a subsidiary of Spelling Television Group Inc. Accordingly, the Defendants have breached the contracts by failing to pay the Plaintiffs their percentage interest in the sale of the episodes.”
CBS did not respond to Deadline’s request for comment on the new lawsuit. We will update when and if they do.
It’s been nearly two years since Rebel Entertainment Partners sued the same defendants — sans Sheindlin — claiming that it has been denied contractually obligated payments since 2010 from the net profits of Judge Judy because it supposedly is “losing money,” while paying Sheindlin herself up to $47 million a year.
When Sheindlin was deposed for that case, she let the Les Moonves-run CBS to know that she’s the judge, jury and executor. “CBS had no choice but to pay me what I wanted because otherwise I could take it wherever I wanted to take it or do it myself,” she said matter-of-factly to lawyers in the summer of 2016. “Their back’s to the wall. They pay me the money that they do because they have no choice. They can’t find another one.”
That case, which seeks widespread unspecified damages, is facing a March trial start.
Attorney Richard A. Schonfeld of Chesnoff & Schonfeld of Las Vegas is repping the plaintiffs in the new case. Make your bets …