Judge Tentatively Orders Hollywood Producer to Pay Ex-Boss Nearly $14 Mil
An Italian film mogul is entitled to nearly $14 million in lost profits from a former executive of his film companies, who had a conflict of interest in producing movies to benefit himself while using his employer’s resources, a judge says in a tentative decision.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Amy D. Hogue handed down her preliminary ruling in favor of Vittorio Cecchi Gori in his countersuit and against Gianni Nunnari.
She took the case under submission in July after presiding over a lengthy non-jury trial that began the month before.
Nunnari’s lawyer, Timothy J. Gorry, maintained that Cecchi Gori, a renowned European filmmaker, gave his client permission to work on outside projects so long as they did not interfere with his duties and loyalty to Cecchi Gori USA and Cecchi Gori Pictures, for which he was president and chief operating officer.
Cecchi Gori’s lawyers say Nunnari took advantage of the trust put in him and spent the majority of his time working on projects to benefit his own company, Hollywood Gang Productions.
Hogue agreed in the tentative ruling handed down last Wednesday.
“Nunnari had a duty not to use (Cecchi Gori resources) or property for his own … purposes,’ Hogue wrote.
The judge found that Cecchi Gori suffered lost profits of $8.6 million from the film 300, $3.26 million from Silence, $1.35 million from Everybody’s Fine and $700,000 on Immortals.
She said Cecchi Gori is entitled to 7 percent interest on his damages.
Hogue said both sides can submit a memo addressing issues in the tentative decision by Sept. 15. If neither side does so, it will become final the next day.
Nunnari fired the first volley in the litigation in May 2008, alleging breach of contract and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.
In addition to his severance pay and pension benefits claim, he also alleged Cecchi Gori persuaded director Martin Scorsese to block his participation in the production of Silence, a film about a 17th century Jesuit priest that would have netted the plaintiff a $1.5 million producer’s fee.
Scorsese subsequently put Silence on hold and began work on another film project, according to Nunnari’s court papers.
Cecchi Gori filed his countersuit a month after Nunnari brought his case.
Cecchi Gori, 68, produced the Academy Award-winning movies Il Postino, which took the Oscar for best original dramatic score; Mediterraneo, winner for best foreign film; and La Vita e Bella, which garnered three Oscars.
Nunnari produced Scorsese’s The Departed, which won four Oscars, including best picture. He also produced 300, From Dusk Till Dawn, Alexander and Shutter Island.“