November 14, 2018 / 9:34 PM / a month ago

'Spinal Tap' creators, Vivendi to mediate $400 mln U.S. fraud lawsuit

Nov 14 (Reuters) - The creators of "This Is Spinal Tap" have agreed to put their fraud lawsuit against Vivendi SA on hold while a mediator tries to resolve their $400 million case over the 1984 cult film.

In a court filing on Tuesday, lawyers for Vivendi and for the plaintiffs Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Rob Reiner and Harry Shearer said they have chosen a mediator who will "attempt to resolve or narrow" the lawsuit.

A mediation was scheduled for March 11, 2019, the earliest date everyone could agree on, and the case against Paris-based Vivendi was stayed until April 1, 2019.

The filing followed an Aug. 28 ruling by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles that the plaintiffs could try to show that Vivendi's StudioCanal unit deprived them of a "fair return" from "Spinal Tap," its music and its merchandise by breaching a 1982 agreement to finance and produce the film.

Vivendi has controlled "Spinal Tap" rights for nearly three decades. The plaintiffs have said it has estimated their share of "Spinal Tap" income as just $81 from merchandising between 1984 and 2016, and $98 from music sales between 1989 and 2016.

"This Is Spinal Tap" is a pioneering example of the mock documentary, known for details including the deaths of drummers under bizarre circumstances, and amplifiers that "go to 11" rather than the normal maximum volume of 10.

The case is Century of Progress Productions et al v Vivendi SA et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 16-07733.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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