A judge said Monday he is inclined to order Chuck Norris to arbitrate his allegations that CBS Broadcasting Inc. cheated him out of at least $30 million in “Walker, Texas Ranger” profits, but allow him to have a jury trial on his allegations against Sony Pictures Television Inc.
However, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Sotelo said he wanted to study the issues further and said he was taking the case under submission. He did not say when he would issue a final ruling.
The 79-year-old Norris, through his company Top Kick Productions, sued CBS and Sony Pictures in January 2018, alleging the companies are engaging in self-dealing and are not paying his share of streaming revenue. The suit alleges CBS agreed to give him 23 percent of the profits from the series, which aired on CBS from 1993 through 2001.
“Chuck Norris’ life, image and brand are among the most positive and patriotic in the United States,” the suit states. “Put bluntly, the public loves Chuck Norris, because there are few men left who honor country and family and served others and whose public values and ethics match the actual life that one has chosen to live.”
Norris’ attorney, Scott Street, told Sotelo that in their own court papers, Sony attorneys did not check boxes to say they were seeking to arbitrate the claims. Instead, they said they were requesting a jury trial, Street said.
However, CBS attorney John Gatti told the judge that the parties agreed in 1999 that all audit disputes would be subject to arbitration.
Lawyers for Sony filed court papers stating that Norris should also be ordered to arbitrate his claims with Sony or, in the alternative, that the allegations against Sony be stayed and not tried until the completion of arbitration of Norris’s dispute with CBS.
Street said he prefers that the judge hear a Norris motion Nov. 4 that seeks to disqualify Gatti and his firm, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, from the litigation for having represented Top Kick a decade ago in litigation against CBS while working for another firm, Greenburg, Traurig LLP. Street alleges in his court papers that at the time Gatti was working for Top Kick, he obtained confidential information that he could use to his advantage in the current litigation.
Gatti said the disqualification motion could be decided by the arbitrator if the judge adopts his tentative ruling.
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