Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in court

Maryland movie fans might be interested in the details of a case filed in a California civil court. Six plaintiffs are claiming they have been denied contractually-mandated payments from the profits of the three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films released in the early 1990s. The plaintiffs are seeking damages of more than $3.175 million for breach of contract and other causes of action.

The first movie, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, was released in 1990 and grossed more than $200 million. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze” was released in 1991 and grossed $78.7 million domestically. The last of the three initial TMNT films was released in 1993 and took in $42.3 million. Neither the 2007 animated film nor the 2014 Michael Bay feature is part of the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, each of the plaintiffs was promised a percentage of net profits from the TMNT movies. The percentage varies by plaintiff, from 8 percent claimed by one plaintiff to 50 percent of 2 percent claimed by another, an heir to a co-producer on the films. The lawsuit values the 8 percent interest at $800,000. The case is complicated by a series of sales and purchases of the rights to the films over the years. As of 2009, Hong Kong-based Fortune Star holds the rights.

In addition to the claimed money damages, the plaintiffs in the TMNT lawsuit are seeking an accounting of the films’ profits and losses so they might determine exactly what they are owed. In some breach of contract cases, as here, one party has more control over funds or information than the other. An attorney with experience in business and commercial law may be able to help individuals and business owners who have suffered damages due to a breach. An attorney may be able to examine the relevant documents and determine the client’s contractual rights or negotiate with the other side to secure money damages.

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