Kelley Drye Wins Dismissal of Case Against Kelsey Grammer and CBS Studios

On May 8, 2012, the Honorable Manuel L. Real, United States District Court, Central District of California dismissed the case of Cassandra D. Colo’n against defendants CBS Studios, Inc., Mara Brock Akil, Akil Productions, Inc., Kelsey Grammer, Grammnet Productions and Allison Jordan. Kelley Drye represented all defendants except Allison Jordan.

In her lawsuit, filed on February 2, 2012, the plaintiff Cassandra D. Colo’n brought claims for copyright infringement, misappropriation of ideas, and unjust enrichment. Judge Real dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit based on the Copyright Act’s three-year statute of limitations and the doctrine of res judicata.

Colo’n filed a complaint in February 2008 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana that was virtually identical to her 2012 complaint in the Central District of California. In both her 2008 and 2012 lawsuits, the plaintiff alleged that she wrote a spec script for an episode of the television show The Game, which series pre-existed the creation of the plaintiff’s spec script. The plaintiff further claimed that she gave her spec script to Jordan to present to the show’s producers. The plaintiff claimed the defendants later used her script to produce an episode of The Game. Notably, in the 2008 action before the Southern District of Indiana, the court concluded that, other than Jordan (the plaintiff’s own agent), none of the defendants knew of the plaintiff or the existence of her work, or had any dealings with the plaintiff before learning of her lawsuit allegations.

In the plaintiff’s 2008 action, the prior court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims for misappropriation of ideas and unjust enrichment because they were preempted by the Copyright Act. In his May 8, 2012 Order, Judge Real held that the prior dismissal of those claims constituted a final determination on the merits. Accordingly, the doctrine of res judicata barred the plaintiff from relitigating those claims in her 2012 action.

As to the copyright infringement claim, because Colo’n originally brought the claim in February 2008 before the Southern District of Indiana, the three-year statute of limitations expired no later than February 2011. Thus, her second action, filed in February 2012, was clearly untimely. Accordingly, Judge Real dismissed this claim as well and granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case, in its entirety.