Appellants, partnership, owner, and distributor

Appellants, partnership, owner, and distributor, challenged a judgment from the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which was entered in favor of respondent distributors in a dispute regarding breach of a motion picture distribution contract.

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Overview

Appellant owner purchased a film from the producer, took control of the film negative, and refused to make it available to respondent distributor. Respondent distributors then sued for breach of a distribution contract entered into before appellant owner purchased the film. The trial court found a breach, and awarded damages and attorney’s fees to respondent distributor. Appellants, partnership, owner, and distributor challenged a judgment, asserting that there was no liability because respondent distributor could not have performed its obligation to distribute, having already assigned its assets and interest to its successor. The court affirmed the trial court’s decision, finding that respondents still had the ability to perform the distribution obligations. The court further found that appellant owner could not be held personally liable for inducing appellant partnership to breach the contract. The court affirmed the award of attorney’s fees to respondent distributors, but remanded the matter for a redetermination of the amount, which was only to include those fees associated with the breach of contract claim.

Outcome

Trial court’s judgment granting damages in favor of respondent distributors was affirmed because appellants, partnership and owner, breached the distribution contract which respondents still had the ability to perform. The court affirmed the award of attorney’s fees to one respondent distributor, but remanded for recalculation to only include those fees associated with the breach of contract claim.