Judge rules consumer lawsuit against MGM's 007 DVD box-set can proceed to trial

04-Aug-2017 • Bond News

A federal judge in the state of Washington has ruled that a class-action lawsuit against MGM over their marketing of the recent 'Bond 50' DVD box-set can go ahead to trial. Although the judge dismissed some of the claims in the suit, the central complaint was not rejected despite MGM lobbying for the case to be thrown out.

Click here to read up on the original complaint. The court has published yesterday's ruling online, complete with many puns from the presiding judge.

In summary, the suit alleges that MGM misled consumers by stating that the box-set contained 'all' and 'every' James Bond film. The packaging clearly stated: "All the Bond films gathered together for the first time". The box-set did not include the 'unofficial' outings 'Casino Royale' (1967) and 'Never Say Never Again' (1983). MGM countered that these terms were marketing 'puffery'. The judge ruled that not to be the case, and may have violated consumer protection laws. The judge did move to dismiss MGM's parent holding company and liability of their distribution partner 20th Century Fox from the suit.

Going against MGM is the trend for cable TV operators to also show these 'non-official' films in James Bond marathons, thus muddying public perception of what is a James Bond film and what is not. A jury of non-James Bond experts may well find in favor of the complaint that MGM overstated the claims on their marketing materials. 

Ironically, MGM now owns the rights to both of those non-canon 'Bond' films and could easily head this case off at the pass by offering anyone who purchased the box-set a free copy of those films. As few would be likely to take them up on the offer, it could have been a far less expensive proposition than now going to a jury trial.

To further hinder their defense, the official 007 store sells the 1967 spoof 'Casino Royale' on DVD.

MGM previously lost a class action lawsuit back in 2005 over misleading consumers over the widescreen aspect ratio of certain DVD releases (including some James Bond films), when in fact the video transfers were just letterboxed pan & scan versions. Click here to see an archive of the class action website.

Yesterday's ruling concludes:

Having reviewed the relevant pleadings, the declarations and exhibits attached thereto, and the remainder of the record, the Court hereby finds and ORDERS:

1) Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. #17) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART as set forth above. Specifically:

a. Plaintiff’s claim for violation of the Consumer Protections Act is NOT DISMISSED.

b. Plaintiff’s claim for breach of express warranty is NOT DISMISSED.

c. Plaintiff’s claim for breach of implied warranty or merchantability is DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

d. Plaintiff’s claim for MGM Holdings and Twenty-First Century Fox liability is DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

e. Defendants’ Motion to strike class allegation is DENIED.

 


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