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Ron Burkle Sues Lantern for Fraud, Breach of Contract Over Weinstein Co Sale

Yucaipa Companies files $6 million lawsuit claiming Lantern cut them out of the deal

Investor Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Companies has filed a $6 million lawsuit against Lantern Asset Management claiming that Lantern cut Yucaipa out of an expected payment for the $289 million purchase of The Weinstein Company’s assets.

The lawsuit, filed at the Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, claims that Dallas-based Lantern made use of confidential information it had obtained while partnered with Yucaipa.

It alleges that Lantern breached the parties’ written agreement, and that Lantern recently informed Yucaipa that it would not honor an oral agreement.

“In fact, it appears that Lantern never intended to honor the oral agreement but fraudulently induced Yucaipa to enter into the oral agreement so that Lantern could use the Confidential Information to become the stalking horse bidder in the TWC bankruptcy,” the lawsuit contends.

Yucaipa, Lantern and former Obama administration official Maria Contreras-Sweet had originally partnered to buy the Weinstein Company, but that bid fell through for a number of reasons, including a discrimination suit from the New York Attorney General’s Office.

Lantern went on to make its own deal and bought the company in a bankruptcy sale for $289 million that closed Monday.

A representation for Lantern told TheWrap that the company does not comment on litigation.

The Weinstein Company has been in turmoil since accusations of sexual harassment, assault and rape agains Harvey Weinstein. He denies any non-consensual sex occurred.

Last week, in anticipation of the sale closing and the studio handing over the keys to Lantern, the the Weinstein Company’s board of directors stepped down — except for Ivona Smith, a restructuring veteran selected to help shepherd the company through bankruptcy.

The company also let go of the remaining 70 or so employees. Lantern offered contracts to roughly two-thirds of the former employees, so about 20 workers were laid off.

Under the deal, Lantern’s film library now consists of more than 270 films. The Weinstein Company won 28 Academy Awards and generated an aggregate worldwide box office of more than $2 billion. Lantern also gained a television business with hits such as “Project Runway.”

Among the film titles Lantern acquired are “The King’s Speech,” “The Artist,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “The Hateful Eight,” “Django Unchained” and “Children of the Corn.”

Unreleased films include “The Upside,” starring Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston and Nicole Kidman and “The Current War” with Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.