“Survivor” attorney nearly $500K win has been wiped out

In a marathon battle involving Mark Burnett's former partner, a California appeals court overturns a jury decision.

Survivor, which has been on network television longer than Tom Brady has been in the NFL, still can surprise.

A financial disagreement that has dogged the series since its start has now been overturned by a California appeals court in the show’s 41st season. As a result, Layne Leslie Britton, a television executive, recently lost a nearly $500,000 judgement.

Britton sued producer Conrad Riggs, who had previously sued former partner Mark Burnett, who had engaged in arbitration with CBS over remuneration for Survivor, which launched in 2000, during the early days of the show.

Burnett had a 50% share of advertising income for Survivor, and CBS intended to cut that in half. When the show was first revived, Burnett and CBS agreed to meet secretly to discuss a financial framework that would ensure the show’s long-term viability. Burnett and CBS eventually agreed.

Britton was functioning as an attorney, according to Riggs, and a contingency agreement for legal services should be void since it violated California law.

The case went to trial after the trial judge dismissed Riggs’ counterclaim, agreeing that Britton was operating as a consultant. Britton was not awarded $16 million. He was awarded $489,850 by the jury. His request for a new trial was also denied.

But the saga of alleged double-crossing is far from over, as a California appeals court has now overturned the trial judge and thrown out the verdict.

The fact that Britton has never appeared in court or worked for law practice is irrelevant, according to the justice. This was a “client-attorney relationship“.

Britton had a legal need to commemorate his contingency fee for connected actions coming out of their connection because he worked as a lawyer. The contract is voidable due to the lack of a formal fee agreement.

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