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Barry J. Spinello v. Amblin Entertainment Co.

29 Cal. App. 4th 1390, 34 Cal. Rptr. 2d 695 (1994)

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Barry J. Spinello v. Amblin Entertainment Co.

California Court of Appeal

29 Cal. App. 4th 1390, 34 Cal. Rptr. 2d 695 (1994)

Facts

Barry J. Spinello (plaintiff) was a film writer, producer, and director with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Spinello pitched the script for a film titled Adrian and the Toy People to Amblin Entertainment (Amblin) (defendant). An executive at Amblin rejected the script, saying it was not interested in the project. A year later, Spinello discussed the film idea with the cameraman of famous film director Steven Spielberg (defendant). His cameraman stated that he believed Spielberg would be interested in reading the script, so Spinello once again submitted his script to Spielberg via Amblin. This time, a different executive at Amblin wrote to Spinello and told him Amblin would review the script if Spinello signed a standard submission agreement. The submission agreement contained a mandatory arbitration clause, agreeing that any dispute arising out of Amblin’s review of the script would be submitted to arbitration. Spinello discussed the submission agreement with his agent, who advised him that the form was standard. Thus, Spinello signed the submission agreement. Amblin again rejected the script. During the time before and after his interactions with Amblin, Spinello submitted the script to over 70 other production companies and directors. Years later, Spinello learned that Amblin planned on releasing a fantasy film about a young boy and toy soldiers that came to life. Spinello believed this film to be based on his proposed script. Therefore, Spinello filed suit against Amblin, Spielberg, and other related entities in California state court, alleging breach of contract and various tort theories. The case was removed by Amblin to federal court before ultimately being remanded back to California state court. Following remand, Amblin moved to compel arbitration pursuant to the submission-agreement clause. Spinello argued that Amblin’s failure to require a submission agreement for the first submission of his script constituted a waiver of the arbitration clause altogether. The trial court denied the motion to compel, and Amblin appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Vogel, J.)

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