‘Reality’ Show Producer Sues Contestants

     MADISON, Wisc. (CN) – A “reality” TV producer sued a law firm and seven women featured in the “Ultimate Women’s Challenge” mixed martial arts show, claiming the defendants’ previous lawsuit revealed how the series came out, destroying its commercial value.
     Sean Morrison Entertainment sued O’Flaherty Heim Egan & Birnbaum, a La Crosse, Wisc., law firm, its former attorney Nicholas D. Thompson, and seven female fighters who appeared on the show.
     The defendant attorneys filed a lawsuit for the defendant women in La Crosse County Court on March 14, 2011, which “intentionally disclosed the results of the Series, which were defined as trade secrets pursuant to paragraph 18 of the Participant Agreement,” the Morrison says in the complaint.
     It adds: “By filing the Wisconsin complaint, defendants willfully misappropriated and disclosed trade secrets belonging to the plaintiff, and tortiously interfered with plaintiff’s prospective economic advantage.”
     Morrison Entertainment adds: “Since the Series is a reality television show contest, the economic value of the Series is entirely dependent upon maintaining the secrecy of the contest elements, which are compromised of the results of individual matches and the overall outcome of the contest.”
     The show followed 16 women living, training and fighting in a tournament that would yield winners in two weight classes. All 16 women, including the seven defendants, signed an agreement that defined the outcomes of matches as trade secrets and restricted the disclosure of results, Morrison says.
     Sean Morrison, manager of Sean Morrison Entertainment LLC, was the principal financier of the series. The reality show was created by (nonparties) LHP Entertainment, Lyle Howry Productions, and Lyle Howry. Morrison loaned LHP $600,000 and LHP defaulted on it, triggering an automatic assignment to Morrison of all rights, title and interest in the series “including any and all ancillary rights necessary to commercially exploit the Series,” according to the complaint
     Morrison says he assigned his rights in the series to Sean Morrison Entertainment LLC in exchange for 100 percent ownership.
     He claims that O’Flaherty Heim and Thompson’s case against the series’ original producer, LHP Entertainment, could have been lodged without disclosing match results or the contest’s outcome, and should have been filed under seal.
     He claims the defendants made no effort to safeguard the trade secrets, but sued for the “specific purpose of disclosing the results of individual matches and the outcome of the contest in order to destroy the commercial value of the Series.”
     Morrison claims the defendants’ attempts to destroy the show’s commercial value are “ongoing,” that some of the female fighter defendants and Thompson disclosed the details of the Series, the results of individual matches and the overall contest results to the press, the mixed martial arts community and MMA Internet chat forums, including mmahq.com, sherdog.com, and mmaweekly.com. They also tried to contact the Utah State Athletic Commission to try to persuade it to release the results of the individual matches, according to the complaint.
     Morrison seeks an injunction and damages of at least $1 million, for misappropriation of trade secrets and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage.
     Sean Morrison Entertainment asked for a judgment awarding liquidated damages of $1 million each against the seven fighters and O’Flaherty Heim and Thompson. The production company is represented by David M. Adler & Associates PC.The fighter defendants are Heather Clark, Angela Hayes, Barb Honchak, Angela Magana, Michelle Ould, Patricia Vidonic, and Kaitlan Young.

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