Victor Miller Files New Motion To Gain Rights To Friday The 13th InContinuing Litigation

Back in August, we brought you the full explanation of why Victor Miller is filing to attain the rights to Friday The 13th. That information came on the heals of Horror Inc. and Manny Company (successor to Georgetown Productions) filing a lawsuit against original Friday The 13th writer Victor Miller in response to the notice of termination he sent the producers in an attempt to gain the rights to the franchise. Until last week we heard nothing about the progress of the litigation until The Hollywood Reporter reported on Miller's Motion To Dismiss.

The motion was filed on October 17th by Miller's attorney Marc Toberoff to throw out Horror Inc.'s lawsuit against the writer and argues that Victor's involvement was not really a "work made for hire."

According to the document:

"While the Screenplay was clearly commissioned by Manny for use as part of a motion picture, the Film, Plaintiff never alleges that a written instrument signed by Manny agreeing the Screenplay shall be considered a 'work made for hire,' and the Agreement attached to the Complaint, and alleged by Plaintiffs to be Miller’s operative agreement, does not contain any such express agreement, nor even the phrase 'work made for hire' or 'work for hire.'"

The motion also details that there was never an allegation he was paid a salary, had taxes and social security withheld, or worked on the producer's premises in the writing of Friday the 13th. Miller alleges he was hired for the sole task of writing the script for Friday The 13th 1980 and provided his own tools to do so.

There is also another portion of Victor's motion.

As outlined by The Hollywood Reported:
If the first motion deals with plaintiff's work-for-hire and employee ownership theories, the second one addresses the need to protect Miller's First Amendment rights.

Miller's motion to strike (read here) is a bit more nuanced insofar as it asks a Connecticut judge to apply California's anti-SLAPP statute, which gives recourse to those whose First Amendment activity on public interest subjects are being deterred by frivolous legal actions. When most people think of the First Amendment, they think of free speech or free press or freedom of religion. Less recognized is the right to petition, and here, Miller argues that his termination notices constitute such protected petition activity.

California courts have accepted this proposition, but whether or not a Connecticut judge will apply California's anti-SLAPP statute is a bit more thorny. Miller asserts he's a "long-time resident of California," for whatever that's worth.

If Miller is able to convince the judge that the lawsuit falls within the ambit of California's anti-SLAPP statute, then the judge would address whether Horror, Inc. and Manny Company have a likelihood of prevailing before moving the case any further. For the reasons articulated above, Miller tells the judge that the plaintiffs cannot show a reasonable probability of success on their ownership theories nor do plaintiffs' separate breach of contract, slander of title and unfair competition claims survive being preempted by federal copyright law.

Now it is up the court to see if Victor Miller's motion is just and worthy of throwing out Horror Inc. and Manny Company's lawsuit against him. We will keep our readers updated in this continuing saga for the future rights of the Friday The 13th franchise.