Tony Moore Launches Second Lawsuit Against Robert Kirkman Over ‘Walking Dead’ Ownership
For the second time in six months, artist Tony Moore has filed a lawsuit against former collaborator Robert Kirkman over The Walking Dead – but this time, he’s looking for more than just unpaid royalties that he believes are owed to him.Moore’s first lawsuit against Kirkman was filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court in February of this year, with the artist claiming that Kirkman had fraudulently induced him to hand over his copyright interests in The Walking Dead to Kirkman’s company in exchange for 60 percent of “comic publishing net proceeds” and 20 percent of “motion picture net proceeds,” neither of which he had received. Kirkman was accused of breach of written contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and promissory fraud in that lawsuit, with Moore asking for a recession of the copyright agreement in addition to monies owed.
That lawsuit is still pending — there was actually supposed to be a hearing this morning — but that didn’t stop Moore from filing a second lawsuit yesterday that was far stronger in both its rhetoric and its demands. Calling Kirkman “a proud liar and fraudster who freely admits that he has no qualm about misrepresenting material facts in order to consummate business transactions” — This is in the actual legal papers, remember — the new filing was made in federal court, apparently with the aim of securing Moore legal status as co-author of The Walking Dead, as well as his other collaborations with Kirkman, Brit, Battle Pope and two unpublished series, Dead Planet and My Name is Abraham.
The new lawsuit is seemingly necessary for the continuation of the first lawsuit; the new filing explains that “in order for the State Court to properly award the correct amount of money due and owing to Moore resulting from Moore’s returned copyright interests, and because Defendants now dispute Moore’s co-authorship status, Moore requires a judicial determination that he is a co-author of the Works.” In effect, the second filing — which seeks a declaratory judgment that Moore is the co-author of his collaborations with Kirkman, and not simply an employee fulfilling a clearly defined role — would remove Kirkman’s argument that Moore has no legal claim on co-ownership on The Walking Dead or any other collaboration.
Kirkman’s attorney seemed unfazed by the new filing, with Allen Grodzky telling The Hollywood Reporter that “he is never going to be able to show fraud, plus the statute of limitations on co-ownership has passed,” adding “Also, he’s not a co-owner.”
It remains to be seen whether or not a judge will agree. If he doesn’t, and Moore gets his declarative judgment, then he’ll also get access to financial records from the various projects, including Kirkman’s contracts and dealings with Image Comics. It may also mean that Moore would be able to license his own, entirely separate from the AMC series, The Walking Dead movies or television series. According to his lawyer Devin McRae, “that is definitely a possibility.”
The new filing is available to be read in full here.