Procedural Posture
Procedural Posture

Defendant movie company sought review of the decision of the Superior Court for Los Angeles County (California), which entered a judgment for plaintiff authors after a retrial and denied defendant’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict in plaintiffs’ plagiarism action.

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Overview

Plaintiff authors filed a suit against defendant film production company which contended that defendant produced television programs based on their works without compensating them as agreed. Defendant produced two pilot films in 1956 and began airing the disputed programs in 1958. The case was tried and appealed. On remand, the second trial court entered a judgment in favor of plaintiffs and denied defendant’s motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict. On appeal, the court affirmed, holding that the action was not barred by the two-year statute of limitations, Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 331, because the statute started to run when the show was aired on public television, not when the pilot films were shown to a national advertising agency. The court also held that the value of the programs was properly established because the uncontroverted testimony of plaintiff, as to the value of the programs, was sufficient due to his experience in the television field, the damages were properly determined to start on the date of the programs appearing on public television, and the method of calculation was reasonable.

Outcome

The court affirmed the decision of the trial court, which entered a judgment for plaintiff authors after a retrial and denied defendant film production company’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict in plaintiff authors’ plagiarism action. The court held that the action was not barred by the statute of limitations and that the value of the programs in question was properly established.