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State agency settles contract dispute with Ashton Kutcher company

It may seem like our culture has an insatiable appetite for reality television shows. New concepts seem to appear on network and cable alike with relative frequency. But, many people may not think about the behind the scenes work that goes into creating and producing a reality show.

Ohio business owners may often realize a similar situation when discussing the business with friends. The details of running a business—such details as entering into contracts—may not be the main thing friends speak about in friendly conversation while enjoying a ballgame.

Reality television is a business—and like any kind of business—contracts are an important aspect of running the business. A recent reality television series idea that never made it to the air wound up in business litigation between a production company and a state Department of Motor Vehicles. The state DMV reportedly has agreed to settle business litigation over a breach of contract with a production company owned by Ashton Kutcher.

Last summer the production company, Katalyst Media, filed a lawsuit against California’s DMV, claiming that the state agency breached a contract with the production company that kept a reality show from making it to the air.

Kutcher’s production company says that it planned to film a series at the DMV, using DMV workers in their work setting. Actually, the production company’s lawsuit alleged that the business and state agency entered into a contract in 2010 to feature workers in a field office in the proposed TV series.

The state agency says that no valid contract ever existed. The state agency says that essential terms were missing from the agreement—terms such as the exact location or field office to be featured in the show, and any specific dates for filming were not identified in any contract, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The agency argued before a judge in the breach of contract lawsuit, that it could not have breached the deal, without the missing terms. The judge reportedly ruled that the production company had raised sufficient allegations to allow the business litigation to continue—at that stage of the legal proceedings.

After the court denied the agency’s request to have the case dismissed, the lawsuit was set to go to trial later this year. However, the agency reportedly agreed to settle the lawsuit for undisclosed terms, which likely involve damages. The production company had claimed that the alleged breach had cost the business nearly $1.5 million. The judge must still sign off on the settlement agreement.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “Ashton Kutcher Company Settles Lawsuit with DMV (Exclusive)," Eriq Gardner, May 1, 2013

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