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Mattel seeks mistrial in Bratz case

The company's move comes after scathing remarks made on the stand by the chief executive of rival MGA Entertainment.

February 11, 2011|By Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times

The bitter battle over ownership of the Bratz dolls has grown more acrimonious, with toy giant Mattel Inc. seeking a mistrial following scathing remarks made on the stand by the chief executive of rival MGA Entertainment Inc.

In his testimony this week, Isaac Larian, the colorful and outspoken head of MGA, contended that the stress from the years-long dispute with Mattel killed his father, destroyed his family and caused Bratz creator Carter Bryant to have a stroke.

Larian also said Mattel lawyer Bill Price used a racist remark during the original Bratz trial and said Mattel uses litigation to stifle competition.

In a motion filed late Wednesday, Mattel lawyers said: "All of these statements by Mr. Larian were gratuitous and volunteered; are false; and have tainted the trial proceedings such that Mattel cannot get a fair trial. In the alternative, Mattel requests that the court give the jury instructions advising the jury that all the foregoing statements are false."

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter on Thursday told Mattel lawyers to refile the motion with supplemental information. A spokeswoman for Mattel said the El Segundo company planned to refile the mistrial motion Friday.

The copyright infringement case, which began last month in federal court in Santa Ana, is expected to last three to four months.

During the first trial in 2008, a jury in Riverside found that Bratz creator and former Barbie designer Carter Bryant was in Mattel's employ when he developed the concept for the immensely popular dolls.

Mattel was awarded $100 million in damages and Van Nuys-based MGA was ordered to turn over the franchise and stop making and selling Bratz products.

That decision was overturned in July by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; the case was later sent to Santa Ana for retrial.

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