Scott and Deirdre Gurney (pictured), Duck Dynasty creators and founders of Gurney Productions, have filed a US$100 million lawsuit against ITV Studios alleging that the company orchestrated an “outrageous campaign of intimidation and extortion” to acquire the Gurney’s remaining interest in Gurney Productions for a deflated price point.
The complaint, filed today (Jan. 10) in the California Superior Court in Los Angeles, follows ITV’s termination of the Gurney’s in December from their company, accusing the duo of “self-dealing, fraudulent concealment and breach of contract.”
In an official filing of the suit, the plaintiffs (Scott and Deirdre Gurney, and Little Win, a California limited liability company) state that ITV attempted to illegally acquire nearly 40% in Gurney Productions at a price “well below” the contracted-for price from its namesake founders. The plaintiffs also allege breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, civil extortion,and invasion of privacy.
“The actions taken by ITV and its appointed board members are reprehensible,” said lawyer Michael E. Weinsten of Lavely & Singer, in a statement issued of behalf of his clients, the Gurneys.
“My clients will not be intimidated by their outrageous, strong-arm tactics to acquire my client’s interest in Gurney Productions at a massively discounted price. We will hold each of these defendants personally accountable for the many millions in economic damages to my clients, and damage to their good name and reputation,” Weinsten said.
The Gurneys will seek to halt the defendants from “unlawfully interfering” with their right to exclusively run Gurney Productions.
In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for ITV emailed the following statement to realscreen:
“Though this filing comes as no surprise as the Gurneys attempt to salvage their reputation, ITV absolutely refutes all of the allegations in this claim as completely baseless and without merit. We will be vigorously pursuing the lawsuit we filed against Scott and Deirdre Gurney in December, following the termination of their employment, on the grounds of self-dealing, fraudulent concealment and breach of contract.”
On Dec. 9, ITV stated that the company has “overwhelming proof that the Gurneys breached their legal and contractual obligations” and have “inflicted severe harm on ITV and the company.”
The duo was fired the same day, with ITV filing a claim against them in the California Superior Court.
Emmy-winning producer and 5×5 Media co-CEO Craig Armstrong was appointed interim CEO of Gurney Productions in early December.
The Gurneys sold a 61.5% membership interest in Little Win to ITV in December 2012.
Earlier this year, A&E announced that Duck Dynasty would come to an end after 11 seasons on the network.