Gurneys regain control of Duck Dynasty prodco

Formats-headerA&E'sDuck DynastyThe battle for control of Duck Dynasty firm Gurney Productions has now seen a court order its founders take back control from ITV America – in a sense.

Los Angeles Superior Court has ruled Scott and Deidre Gurney should be reinstated as day-to-day managers of Gurney until their dispute with ITV Studios is resolved.

However, ITV Studios has already appealed the decision, meaning the Gurneys’ return will be halted until there is another ruling.

The spat exploded in December, when the US arm of UK broadcaster ITV’s production arm sacked and sued the Gurneys, claiming self-dealing and fraud that would drive up the value of the company ahead of ITV exercising an option buying out their remaining stake.

They had sold to ITV for US$40 million in December 2012, while the big-rating A&E reality series Duck Dynasty was still on air.

ITV has issued a statement in relation to this week’s development, saying: “ITV respects the court’s ruling today in which the judge expressly declined to opine on the merits of ITV’s claims and instead decided on a preliminary issue of contractual interpretation.

We remain very confident of success in the merits of our case, and fully expect to win once the allegations of deceit, fraud and self-dealing by the Gurneys are exposed at a full trial.”

The Gurneys are countersuing ITV for US$100 million, alleging breach of contract and invasion of privacy among other charges. They claim ITV has threatened to go public with allegations of embezzlement and fraud in order to drive down the cost of the outstanding company shares.

Yesterday, their attorney issued a statement to US trades.

“We are grateful that the Gurneys’ request for an injunction has been granted by the court, which reviewed the facts of the case and based on those facts agreed that the Gurneys should be reinstated as the controlling managers of Gurney Productions,” said Michael Weinsten.

“The Gurneys are proud of the company they founded and are looking forward to rejoining their team to continue building upon the consistent growth they have achieved over the past twelve years. We have always believed the truth was on our side and today the judge reaffirmed our position.”