A judge indicated Thursday that he is inclined to trim, but not entirely dismiss, claims made in a lawsuit filed against Campanario Entertainment LLC and Netflix Inc. stemming from the creation of a series depicting the early years of Selena’s life.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maurice A. Leiter issued a tentative ruling saying he is leaning toward tossing plaintiff Moctesuma Esparza’s allegation against the production companies for misappropriation of publicity rights, but not his causes of action for tortious interference, unjust enrichment, accounting, money had and received and declaratory relief.
The Campanario-Netflix attorneys are seeking dismissal of all claims against their clients under the state’s anti-SLAPP — Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation — law, which is intended to prevent people from using courts, and potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate those who are exercising their First Amendment rights.
Leiter is scheduled to hear arguments Friday before issuing a final ruling.
The suit alleges that Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, gave Esparza the rights to the life story of the late Tejano superstar in 1995. Esparza produced the 1997 film “Selena.”
Over several years, Esparza worked on a television series about Selena’s youth, the suit states. He alleges that in 2018, Quintanilla and his oldest daughter, 54-year-old Suzette Quintanilla, wrongfully licensed the life rights of Selena to Netflix to create a series about her youth without the plaintiff’s involvement.
Suzette Quintanilla was a drummer for her late sister’s band, Selena y Los Dinos. The Quintanillas and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. also are defendants in the case.
Esparza filed the suit in November 2020, a month before the series premiered.
Selena was shot to death on March 31, 1995, at age 23 in Corpus Christi, Texas, by Yolanda Saldivar, the president of her fan club. The singer had been scheduled to perform at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena the following day.
Saldivar was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 30 years. Now 60, she will be eligible for parole in 2025.