When a lawsuit has reached the point of name-calling and conspiracy accusations, it takes on the aspect of a sitcom. (Mattel, Inc. et al. v. MGA Entertainment, Inc.)
MGA is – at least for the present time – the owner of the line of BRATZ dolls. Mattel contends that the dolls were created by an MGA employee, Mr. Carter Bryant, at a time when he was still under contract to Mattel. Seeking to enforce its claim to ownership of BRATZ, Mattel sued MGA. The legal battle has now stretched on for seven (7) years.
At this point in the proceedings, Mattel has renewed its allegations that Isaac Larian, the President of MGA, destroyed evidence that should have been produced during discovery (destroying or altering evidence is known to those of us in the law biz as “spoliation”). Not surprisingly, Isaac has denied this, calling the accusations “baseless.” MGA admitted that Farhad Larian, Isaac’s brother, had thrown away “several boxes” of company documents, but asserted that these documents pertained to a previous lawsuit between the brothers. MGA further admitted that Mr. Larry Falcon, its Vice President of Sales, had deleted some emails from the company’s servers, but contended that this is “without more, not probative of anything” because Larry “was not in MGA’s IT department” (we are not making this up).
Isaac, in turn, took the opportunity, when on the witness stand, to blame Mattel for killing his father and destroying his family. He also asserted that Mattel caused Mr. Bryant to suffer a stroke and that Mattel’s attorney made a racist remark in court.
The trial, which began on January 18, is expected to run for four months. During that time, it should provide untold entertainment for both the jury and the judge, who obviously has nothing better to do with his time but listen to this witty repartee. We must note that this comedy extravaganza is, in fact, a re-run of sorts. An earlier trial between the parties resulted in a jury awarding $100 million to Mattel. This decision was overturned by the appeals court, thereby providing another judge and jury the opportunity to enjoy the show.
In an effort to keep the show fresh, MGA has added an act to the program. They filed a counterclaim against Mattel, alleging an antitrust violation and seeking $1 billion (yes, BILLION) in damages.
Clearly, companies like Mattel and MGA are a true asset – to both the entertainment industry and the respective law firms they support.
THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED: The widely held belief that lawyers have no sense of humor is obviously false.