On Friday (June 16), Judge Susan Bryant-Deason of the Los Angeles Superior Court issued eight sanctions against ITV America for failure to comply with a previously issued injunction that would put the Gurneys back in charge of the company they founded more than a decade ago.
While the sanctions include fines totaling US$12,000, the judge agreed to forego payment on the condition that ITV America comply with the order going forward.
“Plaintiffs assert that they made their best efforts to comply with the preliminary injunction, but the court finds otherwise,” the judge wrote.
In March, the Gurneys won a temporary injunction that had them take back company management.
The violations issued against ITV America include prohibiting the Gurneys from having access to all the funds of Gurney Productions, providing the Gurneys with less than $500,000 to spend on development, delaying providing the Gurneys access to the company’s emails, and hindering their rights to fire and hire employees.
ITV America issued a statement noting that the court order, with which ITV will comply, is the result of the Gurney’s failed effort to have ITV held in contempt of court.
“After ruling against such consideration, the court imposed modest sanctions and then ordered them suspended,” the ITV America statement reads. “ITV continues to focus with total commitment on the trial phase of this case during which time a jury will see what we believe is a wealth of evidence of the Gurneys’ outrageous and illegal behavior.”
Michael Weinstein, the Gurney’s attorney, said in a statement that “the court’s unequivocal ruling that ITV committed no less than eight violations of the Court’s March 21 injunction order, and imposition of monetary sanctions against ITV, could not be more clear and could not have come too soon.”
“We will hold ITV and its counsel to their promise in Court that there will be no further violations going forward,” he added. “The Gurneys may now proceed, unhindered, in the development and sale of a fantastic slate of unique programming that made this company great in the first place.”
In December, ITV moved to terminate the Gurneys from their company, accusing the duo of “self-dealing, fraudulent concealment and breach of contract.”
In January, 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.