People/Biz

Gurney reinstatement on hold pending appeal

The ongoing legal dispute between Scott and Deirdre Gurney and ITV was back this week in front of the California Superior Court in Los Angeles, where the Gurneys won a temporary ...
March 21, 2017

The ongoing legal dispute between Scott and Deirdre Gurney and ITV was back this week in front of the California Superior Court in Los Angeles, where the Gurneys won a temporary injunction that puts them back in charge of Gurney Productions, the company they founded more than a decade ago, and were later fired from amid allegations of fraud.

But Monday’s (March 21) court decision was swiftly put on hold as the same judge issued a stay of the ruling pending an appeal of the injunction by ITV. That means, the couple will have to wait to see if they get their jobs back. No court date for the appeal has yet been set.

The move to reinstate the Gurneys, the creative force behind Duck Dynasty, comes a little over three months after ITV moved to terminate the Gurneys from their company, accusing the duo 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.

On Jan. 10, the couple 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 plaintiffs also allege breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, civil extortion,and invasion of privacy.

In addition to naming ITV in the suit, the Gurneys also named ITV Studios execs Brent MontgomeryAndrew Garard and David McGraynor as defendants.

ITV PLC, part of ITV America, bought a 61.5% share in the reality TV company in 2012 for a reported $40 million.

On Monday, the judge hearing the injunction case determined the Gurneys have a probability of prevailing in claims against ITV, according to information provided to realscreen by their lawyer, Michael Weinsten.

“We are grateful that the Gurneys’ request for an injunction has been granted by the court, which reviewed the facts of the case and based on those facts agreed that the Gurneys should be reinstated as the controlling managers of Gurney Productions,” Weinsten said in a statement in reference to the first order to grant the temporary injunction.

“The Gurneys are proud of the company they founded and are looking forward to rejoining their team to continue building upon the consistent growth they have achieved over the past 12 years. We have always believed the truth was on our side and today the judge reaffirmed our position,” he added.

In appealing Monday’s decision, ITV acknowledged in its own statement that the company “respects the court’s ruling…in which the judge expressly declined to opine on the merits of ITV’s claims and instead decided on a preliminary issue of contractual interpretation.”

“We remain very confident of success in the merits of our case,” the ITV statement reads. “ITV is appealing the judge’s preliminary ruling, and neither Scott nor Deirdre Gurney can return to Gurney Productions until our appeal has been decided.”

ITV PLC, part of ITV America, bought a 61.5% share in the reality TV company in 2012 for a reported $40 million.

 

About The Author
Selina Chignall joins the realscreen team as a staff writer. Prior to working with rs, she covered lobbying activity at Hill Times Publishing. She also spent a year covering the Hill as a journalist with iPolitics. Her beat focused on youth, education, democratic reform, innovation and infrastructure. She holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University and a Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

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