Rappoport v. Steven Spielberg, Inc.

Decision Date26 June 1998
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 97-5742 (AJL).
Citation16 F.Supp.2d 481
PartiesJay L. RAPPOPORT, Plaintiff, v. STEVEN SPIELBERG, INC., et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of New Jersey

Jay L. Rappoport, Teaneck, NJ, pro se plaintiff.

David D'Aloia, Saiber, Schlesinger, Satz & Goldstein, Newark, NJ, for Steven Spielberg, Amblin Entertainment, Universal City Studios Inc., Warner Bros., Time Warner Inc., Turner Pictures, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., Hanna-Barbera, Inc., The News Corporation Limited, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Paramount Pictures Corp., Viacom International Inc., Industrial Light and Magic, Nabisco, Inc., Kellogg USA, Inc., DowBrands Inc., Pizza Hut, Inc., Jeffrey Montgomery, The Harvey Entertainment Company, Creative Artists Agency, and Washington Post Company.

John T. Wolak, Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, P.C., Newark, NJ, for Portland Cable Access, Deborah M. Luppold, Melinda McCrossen, Ellery S. Nelson and George R. Slanina, Jr.

Emil S. Cuccio, Cuccio and Cuccio, Hackensack, NJ, for Tele-Communications, Inc.

William J. Kearns, Jr., Kearns, Vassallo, Guest & Kearns, Willingboro, NJ, for City of Portland.

Anthony J. Marchetta, Pitney, Hardin, Kipp & Szuch, Morristown, NJ, for The Coca-Cola Company.

Joseph B. Lerch, Edison, NJ, for Tropicana Products, Inc.

Brian Brokate, Gibney, Anthony & Flaherty, New York City, for Big Feats Entertainment.

Louis M. DeStefano, Carpenter, Bennett & Morrissey, Newark, NJ, for Star Enterprise and Texaco, Inc.

Bruce S. Rosen, McCusker, Anselmi, Rosen & Carvelli, P.C., Chatham, NJ, for CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Andrew Hill.

OPINION

LECHNER, District Judge.

This is an action brought by pro se plaintiff, Jay L. Rappoport, ("Rappaport") against defendants, Steven Spielberg ("Spielberg"), Amblin Entertainment ("Amblin"), Michael Ovitz ("Ovitz"), Creative Artists Agency ("CAA"), Industrial Light and Magic ("ILM"), Universal City Studios, Inc. ("Universal"),1 Jeffrey Montgomery ("Montgomery"), Harvey Entertainment ("Harvey"), Warner Brothers ("Warner Bros."), Time Warner, Inc. ("Time Warner"), Turner Pictures Worldwide, Inc. ("Turner Pictures"), Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. ("TBS"), Hanna-Barbera, Inc. ("Hanna-Barbera"), David Kirschner ("Kirschner"), Maurice Hunt ("Hunt"), Tele-Communications Inc. ("TCI"), The News Corporation Limited (the "News Corp."), Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation ("Fox"), Pizza Hut, Inc. ("Pizza Hut"), Nabisco, Inc., ("Nabisco"), Star Enterprise, Inc. ("Star"), ("Texaco"),2 DowBrands, Inc. ("Dow"), Tropicana Products, Inc. ("Tropicana"), Kellogg USA, Inc. ("Kellogg"), The Washington Post Company (the "Washington Post"), Viacom International, Inc. ("Viacom"),3 Paramount Pictures Corporation ("Paramount Pictures"), Paramount Communications ("Paramount Communications"), Paramount Studios ("Paramount Studios"),4 The Coca-Cola Company ("Coca-Cola"), Big Feats Entertainment, L.P. ("Big Feats"), CBS Broadcasting, Inc. ("CBS"), Andrew Hill ("Hill"), the City of Portland (Oregon) (the "City of Portland"), Portland Cable Access ("Portland Cable"), Corporation for Public Broadcasting ("CPB"), Channel 13 (New York City) ("EBC"), Elaine Weinberg ("Weinberg"), Debbie Luppold ("Luppold"), Melinda McCrossen ("McCrossen"), Phyllis Cole ("Cole"), Ellery Nelson ("Nelson"), Preston Foster ("Foster"), George Slanina ("Slanina") and Sandi St. John ("St.John") (collectively, the "Defendants").

The Amended Complaint asserts claims for copyright infringement, theft of trade secrets, breach of implied contract, false designation of origin pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), restraint of trade pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1 and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1964(c). See Amended Complaint at ¶ 5. Jurisdiction and venue are asserted in the Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1338(a) and 1400(a), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1125(a), 15(a) and 18 U.S.C. 1965(a), (b). See id.

Rappoport contends his "work taken by the [D]efendants was the basis for, and has been incorporated into some of the most commercially successful and creatively important films, television series, special effects work, and technological innovations of the decade." Id. at ¶ 8. The thirty page, 221 paragraph Amended Complaint is far from clear. It does not contain a short and plain statement of the claims upon which Rappoport seeks relief. See Fed.R.Civ.Pro. 8(a). Rappoport does make clear he has not been recognized for his work and seeks "accurate attribution for his work and compensatory and punitive damages to be determined at trial." Id. at ¶¶ 215-221.

Currently pending are the following motions:

Motions to Transfer

1. a motion by Rappoport to transfer (the "Rappoport Motion to Transfer")5 the action to the United States District Court for the District of Oregon (the "District of Oregon");

2. a motion by the "Movie Defendants"6 to transfer (the "Movie Defendants Motion to Transfer")7 the action to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (the "Southern District of New York");

3. a motion by CBS and Hill8 to transfer (the "CBS/Hill Motion to Transfer")9 the action to the Southern District of New York;

4. a motion by Coca-Cola to transfer (the "Coca-Cola Motion to Transfer")10 the action to the Southern District of New York;

5. a "motion" by Tropicana to transfer (the "Tropicana Motion to Transfer")11 the action to the Southern District of New York 6. a motion by Star and Texaco12 to transfer (the "Star/Texaco Motion to Transfer")13 the action to the Northern District of Georgia;

7. a motion by Big Feats to transfer (the "Big Feats Motion to Transfer")14 the action to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas (the "Northern District of Texas");

Motions to Dismiss or Transfer

8. Motions by TCI to dismiss the action for insufficiency of process and for lack of personal jurisdiction (the "TCI Motion to Dismiss") or, in the alternative, to transfer (the "TCI Motion to Transfer") the action to the Southern District of New York (collectively, the "TCI Motion to Dismiss/Transfer");15

9. a motion by the "PCA Defendants"16 to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction or, in the alternative, to transfer the action to the District of Oregon (the "PCA Defendants Motion to Dismiss/Transfer");17

10. a motion by the City of Portland to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction or, in the alternative, to transfer the action to the District of Oregon (the "City of Portland Motion to Dismiss/Transfer");18

Motions to Dismiss

11. a motion by Spielberg to dismiss the action for insufficiency of process and for lack of personal jurisdiction (the "Spielberg Motion to Dismiss");19

12. a motion by Montgomery to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction (the "Montgomery Motion to Dismiss");20

13. a motion by Harvey to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction (the "Harvey Motion to Dismiss");21

14. a motion by Hanna-Barbera to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction (the "Hanna-Barbera Motion to Dismiss").22

Excluding the Rappoport Motion to Transfer, these motions will be collectively referred to as the "Post-Amendment Motions."

For the reasons set forth below:

1. the Rappoport Motion to Transfer is granted in part and denied in part;

2. the Movie Defendants Motion to Transfer is granted; the claims against the Movie Defendants are severed and transferred to the Southern District of New York;

3. the CBS/Hill Motion to Transfer is granted; the claims against CBS and Hill are severed and transferred to the Southern District of New York;

4. the Coca-Cola Motion to Transfer is granted; the claims against Coca-Cola are severed and transferred to the Southern District of New York;

5. the Tropicana Motion to Transfer is granted; the claims against Tropicana are severed and transferred to the Southern District of New York;

6. the Star/Texaco Motion to Transfer is granted; the claims against Star and Texaco are severed and transferred to the Northern District of Georgia;

7. the Big Feats Motion to Transfer is granted; the claims against Big Feats are severed and transferred to the Northern District of Texas;

8. the TCI Motion to Dismiss/Transfer is granted in part and denied in part; the claims against TCI are severed and transferred to the Southern District of New York;

9. the PCA Defendants Motion to Dismiss/Transfer is granted in part and denied in part; the claims against the PCA Defendants are severed and transferred to the District of Oregon;

10. the City of Portland Motion to Dismiss/Transfer is granted in part and denied in part; the claims against the City of Portland are severed and transferred to the District of Oregon;

11. the Spielberg Motion to Dismiss is granted; the claims against Spielberg are dismissed without prejudice;

12. the Montgomery Motion to Dismiss is granted; the claims against Montgomery are dismissed without prejudice;

13. the Harvey Motion to Dismiss is granted; the claims against Harvey are dismissed without prejudice 14. the Hanna-Barbera Motion to Dismiss is granted; the claims against Hanna-Barbera are dismissed without prejudice; and

15. the claims against Ovitz, Kirschner and Kellogg are severed and transferred to the District of Oregon.

In summary, the claims against Amblin, Universal, Warner Bros., Time Warner, Turner Pictures, TBS, the News Corp., Fox, Paramount, Viacom, ILM, Nabisco, Dow, Pizza Hut, CAA, the Washington Post Company, CBS, Hill, Coca-Cola, Tropicana and TCI are transferred to the Southern District of New York. The claims against Star and Texaco are severed and transferred to the Northern District of Georgia. The claims against Big Feats are severed and transferred to the Northern District of Texas. The claims against Portland Cable, Luppold, McCrossen, Nelson,...

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