KWIKA founding partner Michael Kump and Jeremiah Reynolds convinced a federal judge in Chicago to dismiss claims filed against renowned actor Michael Keaton in connection with the motion picture The Merry Gentleman. Keaton starred in and made his directorial debut in the independent film which garnered widespread praise from critics when it premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and when it was released in May 2009. Nevertheless, in April 2013, one of the investors in the film filed a breach of contract action against Keaton, alleging that Keaton’s breaches of his Directing Agreement caused the investor to lose his investment. After conducting discovery for several months, Mike and Jeremiah filed a motion for summary judgment which established that Keaton’s performance as director did not cause the film to underperform at the box office.
On December 22, 2014, United States District Judge Gary Feinerman in Chicago agreed and granted KWIKA’s motion in an 18-page opinion. The Court ruled that plaintiff failed to show that a reasonable jury could find a causal connection between Keaton’s alleged breaches and plaintiff’s claimed monetary losses. (Opinion, p.13) The Court stated: “That [plaintiff] eventually lost money in the endeavor is unfortunate, but not justification to shift all of the losses to Keaton for alleged breaches that [plaintiff] cannot prove caused those losses.” (Id., p.16.) As a result, the Court held that “Keaton’s summary judgment motion is granted, entitling Keaton to judgment on [plaintiff’s] claim.”(Id., p.18.)
On December 23, 2014, The Hollywood Reporter ran a story about KWIKA’s victory entitled, “Michael Keaton Beats Producer’s Lawsuit Over His Directorial Debut.” The article included a statement from Mike:
“Michael is extremely gratified with the court’s decision to grant our motion and dismiss the claims against him,” says Kump. “This lawsuit should never have been filed. Every person who worked on the film testified that Michael worked tirelessly and passionately to make the best possible film. The movie received widespread critical praise when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and later when it was released. Michael looks forward to continuing with his many artistic endeavors.”