One week after Duck Dynasty creators Scott and Deirdre Gurney took what seemed to be a step forward in winning back their company, the California Superior Court in Los Angeles appears to have put a stop to their immediate return to Gurney Productions’ offices.
On March 21, the Gurneys won a temporary injunction that allowed them to take back running the company they founded more than a decade ago. The court’s decision was put on hold, however, as the same judge issued a temporary stay of the ruling, pending an appeal by ITV.
On March 28, in a verbal decision, a move by the Gurneys to get back in charge of the day-to-day operations of the company was turned down. That means last week’s ruling remains in place, with its interpretation under dispute by both parties involved.
“We have held from the very beginning that we are extremely confident of success in the merits of our case,” said an ITV spokesperson in a statement issued following Tuesday’s decision. “The amount of compelling evidence against the Gurneys continues to mount, beyond what was included in our initial filing, and we fully expect to win once the allegations of deceit, fraud and self-dealing by the Gurneys are exposed at a full trial. We are happy to be moving toward the discovery phase of the case.”
Meanwhile, the Gurneys’ attorney Phil Kelly told realscreen:
“Nothing has changed from last week’s detailed 10-page opinion from the court which in granting a preliminary injunction against ITV found as to each and every claim alleged by ITV that the Gurneys are likely to prevail, including the court’s findings that they were terminated without good cause and that they remain the controlling managers of Gurney Productions.”
The latest legal back-and-forth 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.
ITV PLC, part of ITV America, bought a 61.5% share in the reality TV company in 2012 for a reported $40 million.