AdobeStock_137636471.jpeg

BLOG

  • Peter Lamont, Esq.

A Christmas Story Christmas Lawsuit

Are you a fan of the movie, A Christmas A Story? If so, have you seen the brand-new trailer for the sequel? HBO Max shared a new trailer for A Christmas Story Christmas, the sequel to the 1983 Christmas classic. In the new trailer, we are treated to clips showing Ralphie, Flick, and Schwartz as adults. The new movie has a current release date of November 17th. Did you know that the actor who portrayed Flick once sued Warner Brothers? Read on for a piece of A Christmas Story trivia that will make you the ultimate fan (and knowledgeable about some common affirmative defenses to lawsuits.)

Flick's Warner Bros. Lawsuit

Zack Ward, the actor who portrayed Flick in the holiday classic A Christmas Story and reprises his role in the 2022 sequel, once sued Warner Bros. for allegedly using his likeness on a figure without his permission.


As part of its defense, Warner Bros. argued that the figure had a "generic face" and did not resemble Ward. The studio also argued that the Statute of Limitations had run out and that Ward's claims were barred by the doctrines of estoppel, laches, and waiver. The case was ultimately dismissed with Ward not getting what he wanted for Christmas.


Understanding the Defenses

Defendants commonly allege the same defenses that Warner Bros. used as part of the Affirmative or Separate Defenses in their formal Answer to a legal Complaint. Since these defenses are frequently utilized, everyone needs to understand better how they work in a lawsuit.


Statute of Limitations

In simple terms, the Statute of limitations is the amount of time someone has to file a lawsuit. Once this time period expires, the person will no longer be able to file a lawsuit. The Statute of limitations can vary depending on the type of case. For example, personal injury cases typically have a shorter statute of limitations than other cases. For instance, in New Jersey, the Statute of Limitations for a negligence or personal injury matter is two (2) years, compared to the six (6) years period for contract claims.


The Statute of limitations starts ticking as soon as the event in question occurs. For example, let's say you were in a car accident on January 1st. The Statute of limitations for your case would start on that date. In most states, you would have two years from that date to file a lawsuit. That means that if you wait until January 1st, two years later, to file your lawsuit, it will likely be too late, and the court will dismiss your case.


There are some exceptions. For example, if you are under 18 years old at the time of the incident, you may have more time to file a lawsuit since minors are not held to the same legal standards as adults. Another example is when the defendant commits a continuous wrong.


To ensure your case is not dismissed because of the Statute of Limitations, you must speak with an attorney as soon as you know that you may have a claim or case. Otherwise, you may be barred from bringing your claim, no matter how good you think your case it.

Estoppel


The doctrine of estoppel is a legal principle that can be used in a lawsuit to prevent someone from making a claim that is contrary to what they previously said or did or what has been legally established as true. Estoppel is often used as a defense against allegations of fraud or misrepresentation.


For example, suppose you are being sued for fraudulently inducing someone to enter into a contract. If you can prove that the other party knew of the facts that allegedly constituted fraud but still went ahead and entered into the contract, you may be able to use the doctrine of estoppel to have the case dismissed. It is also commonly used as a bar to re-litigation issues or as an affirmative defense.


There are four commonly asserted types of estoppel. Below is a list of each type and a brief description.


Promissory Estoppel

Promissory estoppel applies when a litigant believes the other party is reneging on a promise.

Estoppel by Deed

Estoppel by deed is related to real estate transfers and prevents litigants from arguing a position different from what they stated in a deed.

Collateral Estoppel

Collateral estoppel prevents the re-litigation of an issue that a court has already decided.

Equitable Estoppel

Equitable estoppel is a defense that prevents a party from using a right against another party when the right arises out of misleading actions from the person claiming the right.

The doctrine of estoppel is a legal principle that can be used in a lawsuit to prevent someone from making a claim that is contrary to what they previously said or did or what has been legally established as true.

Laches

The legal defense of laches is an equitable defense to a claim, which is brought too late and raised when the claimant has failed to act with due diligence. The defense is based on the idea that the long delay in bringing the claim has prejudiced the defendant.


While the laches defense may appear similar to the Statute of Limitations, there is a distinct difference. The major difference between the two defenses is that the Statute of limitations is based on a fixed period of time set by Statute, whereas laches is not. The period of time for the Statute of limitations may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of claim involved, but it is always a set amount of time.


Laches, on the other hand, concerns the delay in filing the legal action. It is case-specific and relies on the judge's decision as to whether a plaintiff waited too long to bring a claim and the defendant can't put together a reasonable defense because of their inaction.


Waiver

The defense of waiver means that the Plaintiff gave up or "waived" their rights to a particular claim. In general, to establish the defense of waiver, a defendant must prove that:

  1. The Plaintiff had an actual right or claim;

  2. That the Plaintiff knew or should have known that she had a right or claim; and

  3. That the Plaintiff intentionally, and without duress, gave up or waived her rights.

Conclusion

Sometimes lawsuits do not work out. For poor Flick, or at least the actor who portrayed him, instead of getting a Red Ryder carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle with a compass in the stock, he got his tongue stuck on a pole. Now you know the ultimate piece of A Christmas Story trivia and a little more about the Statute of Limitations, estoppel, laches, and waiver.

Additional Legal Terms from the Post

  • Affirmative Defense – A defense to a claim usually asserted as part of a defendant's Answer to the Complaint.

  • Civil Lawsuit – Any non-criminal lawsuit brought in court in which one person says they have suffered a loss or damages due to the actions or inactions of another person.

  • Damages – A monetary award given as compensation for a financial loss, a loss of or damage to personal property, or because of an injury or breach of contract.

  • Defendant – The person or party against whom a lawsuit has been filed in civil court.

  • Equitable RemedyAn equitable remedy is a legal action taken to correct an injustice. This might include ordering the defendant to do something, such as making restitution for damages, or it might involve issuing an injunction, which is an order telling the defendant to stop doing something.

  • Estoppel – A legal principle that stops someone from saying something that is contradictory to an already established truth.

  • Plaintiff – The person who brings legal action against another person or entity in a civil lawsuit or criminal proceeding.


Contact us Today at our Bergen County Office. Call Us at (201) 904-2211 or email Us at info@pjlesq.com

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

If you would like more information about this post or if you want to discuss your legal matter with an attorney at the Law Offices of Peter J. Lamont, please contact me at pl@pjlesq.com or at (201) 904-2211. Don't forget to check out and subscribe to our podcast and YouTube channel. We have hundreds of podcasts and videos concerning a variety of business and legal topics. I look forward to answering any questions that you might have.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this website and post are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. The contents of this website and the posting and viewing of the information on this website should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for, legal or tax advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. Nothing on this website is an offer to represent you, and nothing on this website is intended to create an attorney‑client relationship. An attorney-client relationship may only be established through direct attorney‑to‑client communication that is confirmed by the execution of an engagement agreement.


As with any legal issue, it is important that you obtain competent legal counsel before making any decisions about how to respond to a subpoena or whether to challenge one - even if you believe that compliance is not required. Because each situation is different, it may be impossible for this article to address all issues raised by every situation encountered in responding to a subpoena. The information below can give you guidance regarding some common issues related to subpoenas, but you should consult with an attorney before taking any actions (or refraining from acts) based on these suggestions. Separately, this post will focus on New Jersey law. If you receive a subpoena in a state other than New Jersey, you should immediately seek the advice of an attorney in your state as certain rules differ in other states.