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Franchise Wins OK to Seal Documents

March 16, 2001|JAMES BATES

A federal magistrate ruled in favor of producer Elie Samaha's Franchise Pictures on Thursday, allowing the company to designate as confidential an unspecified number of documents included in a fraud lawsuit brought by a German firm that helped bankroll Franchise movies.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Wistrich in Los Angeles warned Franchise not to go overboard, saying the company could face fines if it declares documents confidential when there is no justification.

Franchise had sought the order after it was sued late last year in federal court by Germany's Intertainment, which alleged that Franchise inflated film budgets on paper so Intertainment would contribute more funds to the project than its contract required.

Franchise has denied the allegations and is suing Intertainment in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging it reneged on the deal between the companies.

Franchise's films include "The Whole Nine Yards," "Get Carter," "Battlefield Earth" and "3000 Miles to Graceland."

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