With the legal battle looming between Prospect Park and ABC over allegations of conspiracy, sabotage and breach of contract regarding the studio’s online re-launch of All My Children and One Life to Live, ABC issued its first legal response to the plaintiff’s lawsuit today in court.
In November, Prospect Park amended its lawsuit against the network, alleging a conspiracy to create a “mega soap” and defraud the studio by sabotaging their efforts to reboot the soap operas, among other things. Unbeknownst to Prospect Park, at the same time the ink was drying on the Licensing Agreement granting Prospect Park an exclusive license for OLTL through January 31, 2013, ABC insiders were developing a plan to create a mega-soap through the amalgamation of OLTL and GH, intentionally disregarding Prospect Park’s rights,” notes the complaint.
It further claimed ABC violated the terms of their agreement in a pre-conceived plan to undermine any future attempts by Prospect Park to reboot the projects. “Even before the ink dried on the parties’ agreement, ABC began unilaterally changing key storylines and themes, literally killing some OLTL characters and deeply integrating others into the GH landscape, all to create a mega soap of GH behind Prospect Park’s back.”
As part of its amended claim, Prospect Park demanded a “a declaration that Prospect Park’s continued payment of the licensing fees under the Agreement is excused; that Prospect Park is entitled to an extension of the License Agreement; and that the term of the License Agreement is tolled, from the time of ABC’s breach until the breach is fully remedied.”
ABC’s counsel, Susan Klein of Valle Makoff, filed a motion to strike under California Code of Civil Procedure sections 431.10, 435 and 436, on the basis that “they are not a proper basis for declaratory relief.” Under the Code, the court may strike “irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading,” which ABC accuses Prospect of doing.
She argues that Prospect Park essentially wants the court to rewrite the terms of their agreement, not interpret the terms, which is the purpose of declaratory relief.
“Here, Prospect Park is not asking this Court to resolve an unsettled question by interpreting the Agreement,” reads the filing. “Instead, it is doing the exact opposite: asking this Court to rewrite the contract to unsettle something that parties have already firmly determined — the term of the License. Simply put, Prospect Park’s request is not a proper subject of declaratory relief.”
Translation: The notion that Prospect Park shouldn’t have to pay the money it owes ABC from the time of the alleged breach of contract until the lawsuit is resolved is absurd. It’s even more absurd to expect the judge to agree to extend the length of the contract should Prospect Park fail to meet its original agreement.
According to ABC, the agreement allows Prospect Park the rights to produce up to 15 seasons of 12 calendar months for All My Children and One Life to Live.
Rights would revert back to ABC only if: a) The network ceases production for 18 consecutive months. Should that happen, rights would revert back to ABC OR b) Prospect Park meets the terms of the agreement and produces the 15 seasons.
With production on the Connecticut-based soaps “suspended” since last September, Prospect would have to resume production on AMC and OLTL before March 2015 or their rights would expire.
After Prospect Park’s first attempts to get AMC and OLTL off the ground failed in 2011 due to “financing shortages, labor disputes and high production costs,” the studio and ABC entered into an amended agreement that would benefit both parties.
In exchange for licensing back to ABC the rights to use some OLTL characters on General Hospital, ABC would “align the dates for Prospect Park to exercise its options for OLTL and AMC, thus giving Prospect an additional four months on the AMC option, and to forgive some of the debut that Prospect owed it at that point.”
ABC contends that Prospect Park didn’t complain while the characters were used by the network throughout 2012. When Prospect decided to move forward with AMC and OLTL, ABC entered into “two additional amendments to use the License Agreement, which each extended Prospect Park’s time to begin production of the shows and give ABC continuing use of the OLTL characters on GH.