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Investor awarded millions in 'Flip' lawsuit

Richard Davis gets $4 million for his role in creating A&E's 'Flip This House.'

November 13, 2008|Meg James | James is a Times staff writer.

There is still money to be made in house flipping.

On Wednesday, a federal jury in South Carolina awarded $4 million to a real estate investor for his role in creating the popular show "Flip This House" for A&E Networks.

That amount represents half of the profit generated by the first season of the show, when real estate broker Richard C. Davis and others from his firm, Trademark Properties Inc., were featured buying properties, fixing them and selling some for a tidy profit.

Davis sued A&E two years ago, alleging that executives at the A&E cable channel reneged on their promise to pay him half the revenue produced by the program, which debuted in 2005. A&E, in court filings, denied that it ever made such a promise. There was no written contract.

The network is owned by Hearst Corp., Walt Disney Co.'s ABC and NBC Universal.

"We are deeply disappointed in the jury's decision, and we will follow the appropriate steps to have the verdict reversed," said Michael Feeney, A&E's spokesman.

Davis had sought as much as $30 million. The case hinged on whether the oral discussions between Davis and network executives amounted to a contract.

"This case reaffirms the enforceability of oral contracts in the television industry," said Brian Wolf, an attorney with Lavely & Singer in Los Angeles, a firm that represents Davis.

"If you use someone's idea or concept for a television show, then you need to pay them for it."

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meg.james@latimes.com

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