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It sounds like the kind of bitter battle that you would read about in a comic book. Man versus self. Stan Lee versus … Stan Lee.
Except here, Plaintiff Stan Lee is actually Stan Lee Media Inc., (SLMI) the struggling, once-bankrupt company that comic creator extraordinaire Stan Lee founded in the late 1990s. Defendant Stan Lee is the aforementioned creative genius, who has since returned to Marvel.
And their battleground is the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
SLMI filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2001 amid plummeting stock prices and SEC inquiries into insider trading allegations and misappropriation of funds, according to the Animation World Network.
Since winning court approval for a new board of directors in 2010, SLMI has been attempting to revive claims that the company was the victim of a conspiracy to rob it of its assets. This includes an ongoing Stan Lee lawsuit over characters such as Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, and the Fantastic Four.
SLMI is trying stake its claim on the popular comics by alleging that Lee did not validly terminate his contract with SLMI. The company is asking the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to direct a district court to hear its claims against Lee and Marvel, despite the fact that the court dismissed an early SLMI shareholder lawsuit, Abadin v. Marvel Entertainment, in 2010 for lack of standing.
On March 8, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals will hear SLMI's arguments that it now has standing to pursue efforts to reclaim the multi-billion dollar properties, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The case before the appellate court is Stan Lee, Marvel Enterprises v. Stan Lee Media Inc.
But the Spider-Man/Fantastic Four battle isn't the only SLMI's only beef with Stan Lee.
Last year, the company sued to reclaim its stake in Conan Properties and all Conan-related rights, (yes, as in Conan the Barbarian), alleging that SLMI's attorney Arthur Lieberman, violated his fiduciary duty to SLMI by advocating for SLMI, Conan Sales, and Stan Lee, (who was no longer with SLMI) during a default proceeding that returned Conan Properties to Conan Sales, reports Courthouse News Service.
A judge dismissed Stan Lee Media's claim against Conan last week, writes the Hollywood Reporter.