Monday, September 21, 2020
Sept. 21, 2020

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Judge sets aside verdict in NBC, ‘Columbo’ case

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LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles judge has set aside a $71 million jury verdict against NBC Universal over the disbursement of profits from the legendary crime TV drama “Columbo.”

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Burdge Jr. granted the studio’s motion for a new trial, overturning a March finding in favor of the creators Richard Levinson and William Link.

The court ruled Monday that the jury should have been instructed on the meaning of certain key provisions that determined whether NBC Universal had the right to deduct distribution fees for the 1970s detective series.

The case is the latest win for media companies in so-called profit participation cases, where creators of shows or films claim a greater cut or rights to the spoils from a hit.

This spring, a different judge at the same court overturned a $128 million award to the stars and two producers of Fox’s longtime hit show “Bones,” the largest award of its kind. However, the judge left in place a $50 million actual damages judgment against Fox, which produced the crime drama that ran from 2005 to 2017.

The cases have shone a light on murky Hollywood accounting practices that often result in court battles.

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