Netflix Emerges Victorious in $10M Lawsuit Over Film It Refused to Carry

Netflix Emerges Victorious in $10M Lawsuit Over Film It Refused to Carry

Filmmaker claimed that Netflix was guilty of “the most egregious act ever committed by a film distributor”

Netflix scored a legal victory over a filmmaker who sued the video distribution company after it refused to carry his film.

A U.S. district court judge chucked the lawsuit filed by T. Allen Chey with prejudice on Monday, after Netflix filed a motion to dismiss.

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In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court in central California in July, Chey claimed that Netflix had damaged him in a variety of ways by refusing to carry his film “Suing the Devil,” starring Malcolm McDowell, Tom Sizemore and Corbin Bernsen, while also putting the film on its page with a “Save” button.

Chey, who sought “$10,000,0000 minimum damages” in the suit, contended that the theatrical release of the film suffered because customers decided that they would “wait until it comes out on Netflix,” based on the appearance of the film on the site with the save button.

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Chey further argued that he lost revenue because “so many customers would have bought the DVD or paid for VOD had the customers known it would not be available on Netflix.”

The filmmaker went on to estimate that Netflix had caused “perhaps hundreds of thousands of potential buyers” of “Suing the Devil” to pass on purchasing, based on the belief that it would be added to Netflix.

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Chey called Netflix's alleged actions “the most egregious act ever committed by a film distributor,” noting that he was “extremely shocked” when Netflix took a final pass on “Suing the Devil.”

In its own legal papers, Netflix argued against the eight claims made by Chey in his initial complaint, contending, in part, that “the complaint does not allege that Netflix made any specific promise that it would buy copies of ‘Suing the Devil.'”

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Netflix also argued that creating a “Save” entry for the film, and declining unsolicited offers to carry the movie, amounts to “ordinary business operations and decisions which are standard practice in the film industry.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

  • Tvaddic

    How did this ridiculous case even make it into court?

    • jhs39

      Anyone can file a lawsuit but this was thrown out when Netflix filed a motion to dismiss, which is the first step in defending yourself against a lawsuit. Basically the first time a judge looked at the merits of the case he threw it out. That's how the system is supposed to work–there's no way to determine whether a lawsuit has any merit or not before a judge gets to see it.

      • Brian

        Yup. Anyone can file a lawsuit for anything– it's one of the freedoms of the country. And the courts can throw it out when they take a look at it and see it's ridiculous and completely without merit.

    • qunton

      this sort of issue is exactly what the courts are for. the producer lost money because Netflix advertised that it would have a movie it didn't have a license for. Disagree? hardly ridiculous

      • Brian

        An entry with a save button isn't advertising that they would have the movie. This is Netflix's way to gauge public interest to see if it's something they SHOULD obtain– there's never a guarantee that they will ever acquire any of these properties. On any film with a save button, the film's availability is always listed as “unknown” and it isn't updated until they have a committed release date. When you click on the save button, you also get a pop-up window that lists the unknown availability date as well.

        This case was ludicrous, and reeks of desperation on the part of an incompetent filmmaker who'd rather blame every external factor in the universe while refusing to be honest with himself about his own lack of skill and talent and the part that plays in the widespread disinterest towards his film. America is full of people who think they're entitled to whatever they want just because they exist.

  • jhs39

    This guy's movie was dreadful and it was available at Redbox, so it's not like people didn't have access to it if they actually wanted to see it. If he ever wants to make another movie lawsuits aren't the thing he should be working on–writing, directing, and casting are all skills that were badly lacking with Suing the Devil. Malcolm McDowell will apparently do anything as long as there is a paycheck, but if he weren't in Suing the Devil it would have been completely unwatchable and possible impossible to release–the movie was seriously that awful.

  • stimps

    10 million, no. But his claim is correct. Money was lost, and Netflix should not have a SAVE option on a movie they have not licensed.

    • Brian

      That's their way of gauging interest to see if they SHOULD carry a film they don't already have. The filmmaker is just butt-hurt that there's so little interest in his film, and ridiculously blaming anyone he can for the widespread disinterest.

  • James Leroux

    These guys hired firms to troll the IMDB boards and threaten people who disliked the movie with legal action. scum.