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State Supreme Court Declines to Review Coppola's Appeal

July 19, 2001|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a petition by director Francis Ford Coppola to review two lower court decisions that scrapped $80 million in damages he won against Warner Bros. three years ago in a dispute over an aborted "Pinocchio" film.

In declining to hear Coppola's appeal, the court hands Warner Bros. what is expected to be the final victory in the bitterly fought case.

"This matter has been finally and appropriately resolved," Warner Bros. General Counsel John Schulman said.

Coppola's lawyer, Robert Chapman, could not be reached.

The jury award in July 1998 for the Oscar-winning director of "The Godfather" films stunned Hollywood. Believed to be the biggest civil verdict against a Hollywood studio, it included $20 million in compensatory damages and $60 million in punitive damages.

But a Los Angeles Superior Court judge three months later set aside the punitive damages, saying Coppola failed to provide convincing evidence that he was entitled to those damages.

An appeals court reversed the compensatory damages and refused to reinstate the punitive award.

Coppola originally filed suit in 1995, alleging that Warner had improperly claimed ownership of a "Pinocchio" project he developed there.

In doing so, he argued, the studio interfered with his ability to get the movie made at Columbia Pictures. Warner denied it did anything improper.

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