In a complaint filed today, Woody Allen’s company sued Amazon for cancelling a multi-film distribution contract.  Amazon appears to have relied on the contract law doctrine of “frustration of purpose,” telling Allen’s lawyers in an email:

Amazon’s performance of the Agreement became impracticable as a result of supervening events, including renewed allegations against Mr. Allen, his own controversial comments, and the increasing refusal of top talent to work with or be associated with him in any way, all of which have frustrated the purpose of the Agreement and support Amazon’s decision to terminate it.

The complaint reflects Allen’s disagreement on this point:

Amazon has tried to excuse its action by referencing a 25-year old, baseless allegation against Mr. Allen, but that allegation was already well known to Amazon (and the public) before Amazon entered into four separate deals with Mr. Allen—and, in any event it does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate the contract.

A judge has yet to be assigned.

 

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Charles Michael has successfully handled a wide range of commercial litigation matters.  He has obtained favorable settlements or dismissals on behalf of clients accused of securities fraud, intellectual property infringement, antitrust violations, wrongful termination and breach of contract.  He has also successfully represented clients bringing claims for breach of fiduciary duty, trademark infringement, breach of contract, and professional malpractice.

He is the founder and editor of the SDNY Blog which covers civil litigation and trial practice in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.  Additionally, Mr. Michael has recently given several presentations to in-house counsel at private equity firms and others about limiting the risk of being held responsible in court for portfolio company liabilities, and preserving the attorney-client privilege among corporate affiliates.