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Judge Reinstates Gurney Productions Founders at ‘Duck Dynasty’ Company

Variety logo Variety 3/20/2017 Cynthia Littleton
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A Los Angles Superior Court judge has reinstated Gurney Productions founders Scott and Deirdre Gurney as heads of the production company the couple ran until a legal battle erupted in December with parent company ITV America.

The Gurneys were removed in December as controlling managers of the company amid allegations of fraud and deception leveled in a lawsuit filed by ITV. On Monday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Susan Bryant-Deason granted the Gurneys’ request for an injunction against ITV’s actions while the lawsuit and the couple’s $100 million complaint against ITV proceeds.

However, ITV said it would appeal the decision and emphasized that the Gurneys will not be able to formally return to running the company while the appeal is pending.

“We are grateful that the Gurneys’ request for an injunction has been granted by the court, which reviewed the facts of the case and based on those facts agreed that the Gurneys should be reinstated as the controlling managers of Gurney Productions,” said Michael Weinsten, attorney for the Gurneys. “The Gurneys are proud of the company they founded and are looking forward to rejoining their team to continue building upon the consistent growth they have achieved over the past 12 years. We have always believed the truth was on our side and today the judge reaffirmed our position.”

In ITV’s view, the judge “expressly declined to opine on the merits and instead gave a view on a preliminary issue of contractual interpretation,” the company said in a statement. “We remain very confident of success in the merits of our case, and fully expect to win once the allegations of deceit, fraud and self-dealing by the Gurneys are exposed at a full trial. ITV is appealing the judge’s ruling, and neither Scott nor Deirdre Gurney can return to Gurney Productions while the appeal in this ruling is pending.”

The Gurneys sold a little over 60% of their namesake company to ITV in 2012. ITV has accused the couple of engaging in fraud to inflate the company’s profits, among other allegations. The Gurneys fired back with a lawsuit accusing ITV of fabricating the claims against the founders in order to remove them and drive down the price ITV would have to pay to buyout the remaining stake in the company, as spelled out in the sale agreement.

A May 3 status conference has been set for the ITV lawsuit. Judge Bryant-Deason indicated she would link the ITV and Gurney complaints to proceed along parallel tracks.

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