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Main Line Pictures v. Basinger

1994 WL 814244 (1994)

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Main Line Pictures v. Basinger

California Court of Appeal

1994 WL 814244 (1994)

Facts

Kim Basinger (defendant) was a successful actress who had starred in several box-office films. Basinger loaned out her acting services as an employee to Mighty Wind, Inc. (defendant). In late 1990, Basinger was approached by Main Line Pictures, Inc. (plaintiff) about starring in the film Boxing Helena. In January 1991, Basinger’s and Mighty Wind’s attorneys met with the attorney for Main Line to negotiate the contractual terms of the film. In February 1991, a deal memo, i.e., an unsigned document used in the film industry to summarize contractual terms, was sent to the attorneys for Basinger and Mighty Wind. A formal acting-services contract between Main Line and Mighty Wind on behalf of Basinger was drafted but never signed. During that time, production began for the film and costs were expended to promote Basinger’s involvement with the film. In June 1991, after many conversations about reservations with the film, Basinger backed out of starring in Boxing Helena. Main Line filed suit against Basinger individually and Mighty Wind, alleging breach of contract. Main Line explicitly declined to plead any theory that Mighty Wind was the alter ego of Basinger. At trial, the jury was given the special verdict asking, “Did Kim Basinger and/or Mighty Wind enter into an oral contract with Main Line for Ms. Basinger to perform acting services?” The jury returned the verdict in favor of Main Line and assessed $8 million in damages against Basinger and Mighty Wind. Basinger and Mighty Wind moved for a new trial and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The trial court denied each, and Basinger and Mighty Wind appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Grignon, J.)

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