Judge awards $12 million in damages in 'Crash' lawsuit
A Los Angeles judge has found various companies tied to "Crash" producer Bob Yari liable for about $12 million in damages payable to director Paul Haggis, star Brendan Fraser, co-writer Bobby Moresco and producer Mark Harris.
The ruling by Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Buckley follows a decision this summer in which he supported allegations from the plaintiffs that Yari improperly withheld money owed to them from the 2005 movie that won three Academy Awards, including best picture.
"Defendants breached the contract with the plaintiffs by diverting funds to third parties; adopting bogus contractual interpretations; refusing to correct accounting errors in a timely fashion; adopting inappropriate accounting procedures that were contrary to industry standards; and, in the final analysis, using all of these to avoid paying plaintiffs money due under the contracts," Buckley wrote in his ruling.
Buckley said Yari used his companies to improperly deduct costs from the film, reducing the revenue that could be shared by Haggis, Moresco, Fraser, and Harris. The improper deductions, Buckley said, included $1,300 for Yari's personal tickets to the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards, an $8,300 personal ad in Variety and $40,000 to sponsor the Independent Spirit Awards and the IFP Gotham Awards.
Attorney Behzad Nahai, who represents Persik Productions, also known as Bob Yari Productions, said: "We obviously and respectfully disagree with the decision. The effect of this decision is that the person who took the risk and financed and proceeded with the making of this movie, is in essence being penalized by this court."
The 2007 lawsuit is the latest of several Yari has been involved in over "Crash." Fellow producers Cathy Schulman and Tom Nunan sued Yari in 2006 for allegedly withholding money from them. That case was delayed in 2010 after Yari's company, named as a defendant, filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. And late last year, actor Matt Dillon sued defendants Yari and his companies, saying he was owed more than $100,000 for his work on "Crash." That case is pending.
— Richard Verrier
Photo: Writers Bobby Moresco and Paul Haggis with their Oscar for original sceenplay for "Crash" at the 78th annual Academy Awards, March 5, 2006. Credit: Los Angeles Times