Santorum's Film Company Decries Saboteurs
FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) - Executives fired from Rick Santorum's faith-based film company engaged in "a campaign of sabotage," the studio claims in court.
EchoLight Studios LLC sued its former chief global strategist, Christopher Morrow, and former president, Robert Downes, in Tarrant County Court on Monday.
Santorum, the former senator and Republican presidential candidate, is CEO of EchoLight, which says it "produces, finances, markets, and distributes faith-based, family films," primarily out of north Texas.
Both Morrow and Downes reported to Santorum until their recent termination, the complaint states.
Since August, however, Morrow has failed to turn over financial documents for "Hoovey," a movie project that received $1 million in studio money, EchoLight says.
The film company allegedly fired Morrow in late September and "has been compelled to file this lawsuit in part to stop Morrow from controlling EchoLight's funds without any authorization and to compel him to turn over all the relevant financial information rightfully requested by EchoLight."
Downes meanwhile got the boot after "he disparaged one of EchoLight's principals and the entertainment projects of an entity affiliated with EchoLight and that principal," according to the complaint.
The studio describes "a campaign of sabotage" allegedly carried out by Downes and Morrow.
"As an example, in a meeting with the partners/licensors of one of EchoLight's movie projects, Downes and Morrow made negative comments about EchoLight," the complaint states. "Further, at least two other partners/licensors of important EchoLight movie projects have communicated their desire to end their business relationship with EchoLight. Both have indicated that recently Downes and Morrow have communicated negative information about EchoLight to them. Moreover, while still employed, Morrow went so far as to implicitly threaten EchoLight's CEO Rick Santorum that if he does not allow the rights holders of one of EchoLight's movie projects an option to take back the project, Morrow would malign Santorum in a[n] upcoming Hollywood Reporter article. Morrow also treated CEO Santorum insubordinately by demanding Santorum establish his 'legal standing or authority' before responding to him. After strongly implying - if not outright accusing - certain EchoLight principals of engaging in fraud, Morrow stated to CEO Santorum 'it is not yet clear to whether or not you are participating within (sic) this potential fraud.' EchoLight promptly terminated Morrow for cause (as defined in his employment agreement) and because of his unsatisfactory performance.
"Then during the weekend of September 27 through 29, 2013, after defendants had been terminated from EchoLight, someone hijacked EchoLight's Facebook account and shut off all other EchoLight administrators of that account. Whoever hijacked the account then inserted a story about defendant Downes that inaccurately described him as EchoLight's 'founder.' Upon information and belief, either defendant Downes or defendant Morrow, or both, were behind this hijacking of EchoLight's Facebook account." (Parentheses in original.)
EchoLight seeks damages and an injunction for breach of contract, conversion and breach of fiduciary duty.
It is represented by Chris Howe of Kelly Hart & Hallman in Fort Worth.