Hello, Soap Fans! Lets Talk About Soaps recently sought legal counsel from, Troy Veenstra. We asked him some questions about the ABC/Prospect Park lawsuit and its implications. Here are our questions and his answers. Veenstra is also the author of a book titled, “The Murder of Jeffrey Dryden: the Grim Truth Surrounding Male Domestic Abuse,” available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
LTAS: First of all, Troy, we at LTAS want to thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview and demystify a lot of the legal issues involved in the ABC/Prospect Park lawsuit and its implications for us.
LTAS (Lets Talk About Soaps): So, to placate the viewers and attempt an end to the boycotts of their products, did Disney said they had leased the rights to “All My Children” (AMC) and “One Life to Live (OLTL) to Prospect Park?
Troy Veenstra (TV): This statement is partially correct, whether or not it was to “placate” the viewers I cannot legally say one way or the other, but ABC did lease the rights to AMC and OLTL to Prospect Park Production. The original licensing agreement between ABC and Prospect Park first entered into in July 2011, after the network cancelled the two long-running soaps, gave Prospect Park twelve months to put together online versions of the shows. Prospect Park would then have the exclusive right to produce fifteen seasons of each show. In Jan 2012, the agreement was amended to also state that, “If Prospect Park Productions did not produce the shows for 18 straight months, the rights of AMC and OLTL would immediately revert back to ABC, which Disney does own.
LTAS: Is Prospect Park owned by Disney?
TV: According to the IRS, and Public Records of ownership, The Disney Corporation does not own Prospect Park Productions, nor does any of its subsidiaries. In fact the only property that Disney owns that even sounds close to Prospect Park Productions is Prospect Park Studios, which is not part of Prospect Park Productions. That said, several former employees of Disney own Prospect Park Productions, but there is no paper trail that shows otherwise.
LTAS: Now, Prospect Park is suing Disney, and then—what a coincidence—Prospect Park goes into bankruptcy. But, there is supposedly still an ongoing lawsuit for the rights of AMC and OLTL.
TV: Prospect Park Productions is suing ABC, not Disney (I know you think they are one of the same by ownership but legally speaking they are two different entities). As for Prospect filing for bankruptcy that is also true, and as far as the fact that the lawsuit is ongoing for the rights of AMC AND OLTL, this is also true as the lawsuit was started by Prospect Park Productions, and their bankruptcy is only a Chapter 11 bankruptcy (reorganization) instead of a Chapter 7 (full out bankruptcy).
LTAS: And I don’t understand how can there be a lawsuit with a company who has filed for bankruptcy, as Prospect Park has.
TV: First off, a chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to the United States Bankruptcy Code, states that a debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. Thus this all for the company to stay afloat while also try to pay those business they may owe huge amounts to in partial payments rather than full payments. Secondly, though as you obviously know, The Bankruptcy Code halts pending litigation against companies who file for bankruptcy. Often companies will file for bankruptcy for this very reason, as litigation costs and liabilities pile up. However, if the lawsuit was initiated by the company that filed for bankruptcy, suing another company, the lawsuit can continue, as this helps maximize value for creditors, a main goal of bankruptcy, because creditors will also benefit if the company in bankruptcy is successful in the litigation. Thus, because Prospect Park Productions started the lawsuit against ABC before filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, the lawsuit can continue forward as the other creditors that are owed funds by Prospect Park Productions have a better chance of getting their funds paid if Prospect Park wins their case.
LTAS: Do the details of the lawsuit demonstrate that it is just a smoke screen to keep soap fans off ABC’s back?
TV: Unfortunately, as this is an ongoing case, getting actual court records of the inner workings is impossible, as each party is only privy to that information until the case is resolved.
Now with all this said I cannot legally tell you that there is some scam going on between ABC, Prospect Park Productions, and the Disney Corporation as the information just isn’t there to show it. However, as a professional author, who has written his own conspiracy theories in the past, I would say that it’s a bit suspicious that the owners of Prospect Park Productions are former employees (head employees I might add) of the Disney Corporation… that I find kind of odd… but again legally I’ve done all I can for you.
LTAS: In a law suit, can both parties keep the lawsuit going forever, or they can just decide to settle and close the law suit overnight. Is this correct?
TV: A lawsuit can go on for sometime, until either the judge handling the case gets tired and demands otherwise, or both parties can decide to come to some agreement and request the lawsuit be terminated. But it can be officially terminated only by the plaintiff (the one that brought the suit up in the first place)
LTAS I just have one final question. As the rights of AMC and OLTL were reverted back to ABC, is there any legal reason that the law suit could prevent ABC from producing the soaps or airing them? I mean, I remember a few years back they had a law suit with General Hospital, but that did not affect the shooting or the programming of General Hospital.
TV: If the rights were reverted back to ABC than no, there’s no reason they couldn’t restart the programs.
LTAS: Once again, thank you so much for consenting to do this interview and providing us with such valuable information. We really appreciate your time and expertise!
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