LOS ANGELES – A California judge has denied the defendants' request for summary judgment in an alleged fraudulent film investment case, claiming that plaintiff Monster Film Limited has solid ground for a lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II for the Court of the Central District of California ruled July 11 that defendants Christian Martinen, Galloping Illusions, Roham Ghodsi and Carlos Alperin have no legal standing to have the litigation against him dismissed.
The complicated case involves a $200,000 investment proffered by Monster Films to Martinen and investment firm Galloping Illusions (GI), run by Alperin and Ghodsi.
“When GI failed to perform under the contracts, Monster was entitled to return of the funds. Accordingly, Monster has alleged actual injury,” Wright said.
According to the order, production company Monster Films entered into an agreement April 11, 2013, with GI, who agreed to finance three films for approximately $1.2 million. As part of the agreement, Monster Films would deposit $200,000 into an escrow account.
Several days later, lending firm Highcorp Worldwide transferred $200,000 on behalf of Monster Films into Martinen’s escrow account. However, GI didn’t uphold its end of the bargain, so Monster terminated their contract and requested its funds be returned.
The defendants eventually agreed to repay the funds, but according to Monster, who filed the lawsuit in 2016, only a fourth of the money has been reimbursed. Monster Films also accused Martinen, Alperin and Ghodsi of distributing the $200,000 between themselves and using it for their own financial gain.
Later in 2016, the court ruled that it lacked significant jurisdiction over GI, Alperin and Ghodsi, stating they were alien defendants. To this end, Monster amended its complaint to name Martinen as the sole defendant. In early 2017, Monster added defendants Robert Wall and Markett Inc., both of which it claimed benefited from its $200,000 investment.
The defendants' request for summary judgment stated that Monster Films had no legitimate claim because the statute of limitations for such an action had expired. Lawyers for the defendant also argued the claim to the $200,000 rested with Highcorp Worldwide, which has since dissolved. The court, however, disagreed.
“Monster has pled and produced evidence on all required elements of this claim,” Wright said.
In a secondary decision, Wright also granted the plaintiff's motion to dismiss Martinen's counterclaims against it over negligence allegations.