UPDATE (11/15/18): Lawyers for both Vivendi and Spinal Tap creators Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Rob Reiner and Harry Shearer have agreed to pause their suit and allow a mediator to “attempt to resolve or narrow” the lawsuit, according to Reuters. Mediation will begin March 11th, 2019.
In Thursday’s ruling, U.S. District Court Dolly Gee ruled that Spinal Tap co-writer Christopher Guest’s lawsuit against rights holder Vivendi could continue to trial. However, fellow This Is Spinal Tap co-stars and co-creators Harry Shearer and Michael McKean and director Rob Reiner were dismissed due to the fact they joined the lawsuit as their respective “loan out companies” as opposed to their own names.
In a statement following the ruling, Shearer, McKean and Reiner promised to amend the lawsuit to rejoin Guest as co-plaintiffs.
“Vivendi thought we would be made to go away. Well, not today, not tomorrow, nor the next day,” Shearer said in a statement. “England’s loudest band will be heard. But today is a good day not just for us, but for all aggrieved creative artists.”
Guest added, “We’re doing the right thing, and most importantly, we are setting a precedent for similarly aggrieved artists who can’t afford to do this themselves. We’re sending a message not just to Vivendi, but to the so-called Hollywood accounting cabal as a whole: treat creators from the outset with genuine fairness and respect.”
Although the Spinal Tap lawsuit was allowed to continue, the judge did temporarily deliver a blow to the $400 million suit when she dismissed the co-creators’ accusations that Vivendi committed fraud. “Although Plaintiffs have vaguely alleged the elements of a fraud claim, they have failed to plead sufficient facts,” Gee wrote.
However, Gee left open for the plaintiffs to amend the fraud claim provided that they specify more details pertaining to the accusations.
As the Hollywood Reporter notes, the fraud claim likely would have yielded the largest amount of monetary damages in the lawsuit, which claims that the Spinal Tap co-creators received just $81 in merchandising income and $98 in musical sales income over the last few decades from the cult 1984 mockumentary.
In April, Shearer penned an op-ed for Rolling Stone where he explained why the Spinal Tap team is suing Vivendi as well as lambasted the practice of “Hollywood accounting.”
“Vivendi has confused our rather clueless fictional film characters with the entirely switched-on people behind this multi-million dollar action,” Shearer wrote. “No more ‘mis-underestimation.’ Since learning of the deliberate and persistent obfuscation by Vivendi, we’re on a mission for fairness. And it’ll be loud — Tap loud.”