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'Hawaii Five-O' Lawsuit: Agent Seeks $10M in Remake Dispute

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By Edward Tan, JD on May 08, 2012 9:57 AM

A "Hawaii Five-O" lawsuit seeks at least $10 million in punitive damages for an alleged contract breach, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The suit was filed by talent agent George Litto. Litto represented Leonard Freeman, the writer-producer of the original "Hawaii Five-O" in 1966. After Freeman's death in 1974, Litto claims he negotiated a contract in which he and Freeman's widow would split the profits from any future productions of the TV series. Profits were to be deposited in the family's trusts.

Litto is now suing the trusts' overseer for $10 million, along with profits from the recent CBS remake. So why did he wait so long to sue?

It might be a matter of timing. Freeman's widow died in March, and a trustee took over her trust.

Litto claims the trustee "purposely excluded" him from the dealings surrounding the "Hawaii Five-O" reboot. Instead, a deal was worked out with CBS that violated his rights under the 1974 contract, according to the complaint.

When a party's rights under a contract are violated, the action is called a "breach of contract." Damages in these cases are usually limited to "expectations damages," which is the money a party would've made if the contract had been completed properly.

On the other hand, punitive damages are awarded to punish a wrongful party.

Since Litto claims to have shared ownership equally with Freeman's widow, he believes he's entitled to half of the $2 million CBS paid to the trusts so far. And because he says he was intentionally and unfairly cut out of the remake's deal, he also believes punitives are justified.

The "Hawaii Five-O" lawsuit could result in a large award, as the series rides a new wave of popularity. The new "Hawaii Five-0" -- which CBS now spells with a zero instead of a capital O -- was just renewed for a third season.

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