Trial Update: Friday and Monday

The Charleston Post and Courier continue their coverage with reports on Friday and Monday.  The case is now in the hands of the jurors.  Because of the holiday, deliberation will resume on Wednesday.  

From “Witness denies any 50/50 deal“: 

For days the jury in a breach of contract trial between local real estate magnate Richard Davis and television network A&E has heard over and over about a man named Charles Norlander.

Davis alleges that he and Norlander hatched the 50/50 profit split for the show “Flip This House” in a verbal agreement at the heart of Davis’ lawsuit.

Friday, a man with a goatee and Harry Potter-styled spectacles took the witness stand and repeatedly denied any such conversation ever took place.

Norlander testified that, though he no longer worked for A&E when Davis began threatening to pull out of the show, he encouraged Davis to resolve his differences with the network before it replaced him. He added that he did not know what, specifically, was bothering Davis.

“In terms of what he was looking for, I had no better idea at the end of that conversation than I had at the beginning of it,” Norlander said.

He testified that he never heard of the 50/50 split until he learned Davis filed a lawsuit.

A series of defense witnesses followed Norlander, nearly all making the same point: that Davis never said anything about a profit-sharing deal, and neither did they.

Max Weissman of Departure Films, the third-party production company which still makes “Flip This House,” testified that he suggested Davis ask for compensation from A&E.

“He kept saying he wasn’t interested, that it was small potatoes,” Weissman said.

But Weissman also testified that Davis wanted to see Departure Films’ contract with A&E, which held a confidentiality clause Weissman was unwilling to breach.

Asked whether Davis had a profit-sharing deal with A&E, Weissman replied, “He complained endlessly that he didn’t.”

During cross-examination, Cisa pointed out that Weissman spent no time on location in South Carolina during production of “Flip This House” and that Departure Films grew exponentially because of the series.

Cisa suggested that Weissman, now in the midst of producing the fourth season of “Flip This House,” learned everything he knows about real estate from Davis.

In court documents, A&E has disclosed that the show generated about $13.7 million in revenue and $5.9 million in expenses its first season.

Davis has testified he was never paid for his efforts toward “Flip This House,” which often demanded 80 hours of his time per week. He also was never reimbursed for an estimated $92,000 in expenses, he said.

From “Attorney: A&E owes $7.5M“:

In closing arguments before a federal jury, attorney Frank Cisa said cable television network A&E owes his client, local real estate investor Richard C. Davis, more than $7.5 million in a profit-sharing arrangement attached to the reality show “Flip This House.”

“He had the pilot (episode) in one hand. He had the Writers Guild registration in the other hand. And they never asked Richard Davis what he wanted for his show?” Cisa said in closing arguments. “They knew he spent $85,000 on the pilot and never asked what he wanted for his show? … I submit to you that’s not credible.”

A&E’s New York-based attorney, Jeremy Feigelson, began his closing remarks the same way the network’s local defense attorney, Richard Farrier, began his opening arguments. “No way,” Feigelson said.

He suggested that Davis and Charles Norlander, the A&E representative with whom Davis claims to have made the verbal deal, were “ships in the night” that never quite reached the same point.

“Can you picture a conversation where Mr. Davis talked on and on, maybe talked at Charles … and he persuaded himself he’s come away with an agreement?” Feigelson said.

He told the jury that Davis never shared with them any specifics from the conversation with A&E that allegedly hatched the deal.

Prior to closing arguments, Monday marked the first time in the weeklong trial in which A&E employees acknowledged any mention of a potential 50-50 profit-splitting arrangement prior to the lawsuit.

Cisa produced a copy of an e-mail between Davis and the network with the term “50 percent” handwritten in the margin. But A&E representative Melinda McLaughlin testified she made that note only as the amount Davis proposed he receive on advertising revenue he helped bring for the show, not as an agreed-upon amount.

“I let him know that it would be single digits so he wouldn’t be surprised to see the final (figure),” McLaughlin said.

Below where she marked Davis’ 50 percent suggestion, McLaughlin also made a note to herself: “No way!”

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