LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – Universal Television must have been left smarting a bit over the USA series “Royal Pains” on Tuesday morning.
Hayden Christensen’s production company, Forest Park Pictures, scored a partial victory in its lawsuit over “Royal Pains” on Tuesday, as an appeals court vacated an earlier decision granting Universal’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
In its complaint, filed in 2010, Forest Park maintained that it had pitched USA an idea for a series titled “Housecall” in 2005 that bore striking similarities to what would become the USA series “Royal Pains,” without receiving compensation for the idea.
Universal countered with a motion to dismiss, claiming that Forest Park’s breach of contract complaint is preempted by the Copyright Act, which was granted by a district court. However, on Tuesday U.S. District Court of Appeals for the second circuit in New York vacated the earlier court’s decision, finding that Forest Park “adequately alleged a contact that includes an implied promise to pay. Because this claim is based on rights that are not the equivalent of those protected by the Copyright Act, claim is not preempted.”
USA has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment. According to Forest Park’s complaint, the company submitted a written treatment for a proposed series, “Housecall,” about a doctor who, after “being expelled from the medical community for treating patients who could not pay, moved to Malibu, California” and becomes “a ‘concierge’ doctor to the rich and famous.”
Forest Park says that, after submitting the treatment, it met with USA’s Alex Sepiol, who admitted that he had never heard of concierge doctors but “thought it was a fascinating concept for a television show.”
“Royal Pains” centers around a doctor who, after being wrongly blamed for a patient’s death, moves to the Hamptons to become a doctor for the rich and famous.
In its motion to dismiss, USA argued that Forest Park’s complaint was inadequate because the two parties hadn’t come to an agreement on price terms. However, the appeals court determined that in California, where the bulk of the meetings took place, a lawsuit can prevail if an idea is submitted with the understanding that payment is expected if the idea is used, and that an express condition or promise of payment is not required.”