Reality TV Producer May Seek Profits Lost to Crash

     (CN) – The creator of a reality TV show called “Trash to Treasure” can move forward with a lawsuit seeking lost profits after a motorcycle collision allegedly left him unable to complete shooting, a federal judge ruled.
     Jesse James Dupree is a television producer whose credits include “Two-A-Days,” an MTV show about the Hoover (Ala.) High School football team, and “Full Throttle Saloon,” a TruTV show documenting the world’s largest motorcycle rally.
     On September 29, 2011, the first day of shooting of his latest show, “Trash to Treasure,” he was struck by a car operated by James Green. Dupree, who was driving a motorcycle at the time of the accident, sued Green, alleging the driver’s negligence caused injuries to his wrist, knee, ankle and foot that made him unable to complete the show.
     Dupree’s concept for “Trash to Treasure” was that it would track his adventures visiting “marathon” yard sales around rural parts of the country, looking for valuables amidst the dross.
     To do this, Dupree was to be accompanied by costars Dwayne and Julia Bramlett, of Kennesaw Antiques, and together, they would evaluate the items that they found.
     The collision occurred in Cherokee County, Ala., just six hours into the first day of shooting. Dupree said his goal for the day had been to visit sites along the Highway 411 marathon yard sale and acquire enough footage for “a minimum of four episodes.”
     In a motion for partial summary judgment, Green argued that Dupree was not entitled to recover lost profits because the show had not yet been purchased by a network and because Dupree did not complete filming after the injury.
     On the issue of a network buyer, Chief U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre found the lack of buyer at that point to be irrelevant, writing that “Dupree had already created more content than was typical for this industry and had a track record of success.”
     Bowdre also wrote, however, that only “Dupree’s losses to his personal earning power caused by the injury are recoverable,” potentially limiting his claims for executive producer, music supervision, and talent fees.
     According to the court, Dupree did attempt to continue shooting “Trash to Treasure” the day after the accident, but only managed to capture an hour of additional footage due to his having to shoot with his leg “propped up.”
     Green argued that Dupree could have returned the following year to shoot at the same yearly yard sale, but Dupree claimed this was prevented by his lingering injuries from the accident, scheduling conflicts, and changed in the marketplace – namely, that the television market had been saturated by similar shows by that time and that the “moment had passed.”
     According to the court, the standard for reviewing a motion for summary judgment is to establish whether there are issues of material fact and, if not, whether the moving party is “entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
     In this case, Judge Bowdre found that a “question of fact exists for a jury whether Dupree’s lost profits were caused by his collision with Green and whether Dupree’s lost profits are reasonably ascertainable.”
     As a result, she said, Green was not entitled to summary judgment.

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