‘Stranger Things’ plagiarism claims dropped day before trial
The plaintiff has withdrawn the suit.May 5, 2019
Now, the plaintiff Charlie Kessler has withdrawn the suit against Matt and Ross Duffer. He claimed they stole from a project that was pitched at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
For context, Kessler initially alleged that the brotherly team’s project takes on the themes brought forth by the script for The Montauk Project, which details “various urban legends, and paranormal and conspiracy theories.”
“Charlie Kessler asserts that he met the Duffers, then two young filmmakers whom Kessler never had heard of, and chatted with them for 10 to 15 minutes,” the defendant’s attorney says. “That casual conversation, during which the Duffers supposedly said that they all ‘should work together’ and asked ‘what [Kessler] was working on,’ is the sole basis for the alleged implied contract at issue in this lawsuit and for Kessler’s meritless theory that the Duffers used his ideas to create Stranger Things.”
The lawsuit in question dealt with breaching an implied contract. That the implied contract being that short conversation.
The Duffer brothers refuted the claims. They said their ideas for Stranger Things were organic and independent.
Additionally, the Duffer brothers said they were fascinated with conspiracy theories for four years prior to the alleged conversation.
“The Duffer brothers have our full support,” a Netflix spokesperson says in a story with The Hollywood Reporter. “This case has no merit, which we look forward to being confirmed by a full hearing of the facts in court.”
However, the Duffer brothers were denied their motion for summary judgment. That would automatically confirm the case lacked merit and proof. At the time, it left Kessler’s team an open door to proceed with the trial.
Then, a judge said the issue was determining whether an implied contract was formed in the first place.
“The circumstances under which [Kessler] claims to have submitted his ideas to the defendants are not analogous. The plaintiff’s claimed expectations also differ significantly. He contemplated commercial exploitation and profitability,” the judge says in a court order. “Triable issues of fact remain to be determined concerning what plaintiff said, what he meant to convey by his conversation and how the defendants responded before it can be definitively concluded whether or not an implied in fact contract was formed.”
Now, Kessler withdrew the damages after hearing the deposition testimony.
“After hearing the deposition testimony this week of the legal expert I hired, it is now apparent to me that, whatever I may have believed in the past, my work had nothing to do with the creation of Stranger Things,” said Kessler in a statement Sunday.
“Documents from 2010 and 2013 prove that the Duffers independently created their show. As a result, I have withdrawn my claim and I will be making no further comment on this matter.”
Netflix responded to the lawsuit being withdrawn.
“We are glad to be able to put this baseless lawsuit behind us. As we have said all along, Stranger Things is a ground-breaking original creation by The Duffer Brothers,” Netflix’s statement read. “We are proud of this show and of our friends Matt and Ross, whose artistic vision gave life to Stranger Things, and whose passion, imagination and relentless hard work alongside our talented cast and crew made it a wildly successful, award-winning series beloved by viewers around the world.”
Additionally, the trail was set to take place May 6.
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