Federal Judge: "No Hollywood Ending" for Illinois Firefighter
Court Finds L.A. Producer Defrauded Family of $615,000
NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by the Waterford Law Group. -- Jeff Elliott's dream was to tell his family's story on the big screen. Noted Hollywood producer Christopher Eberts, with screen credits such as "Lucky Number Slevin" and "Lord of War," promised to help Elliott make his dream a reality. Instead, Eberts pocketed Elliott's $615,000 investment.
Elliott sued Eberts for fraud, conversion and breach of contract, and on May 21, 2012 an Illinois Federal Court rendered judgment in favor of Elliott, ordering Eberts to pay back Elliott's sizable investment, plus $500,000 in punitive damages.
"Since Mr. Eberts has a pending bankruptcy, it may be a difficult sum to recover," says Elliott's attorney Kurt Beasley.
Elliott, a retired firefighter from Normal, Illinois, wrote the book, Rebounding from Death's Door. It is based on his son Eric "Hoovey" Elliott's miraculous recovery from a massive brain tumor.
"My son loved basketball. When he was initially diagnosed, we were worried about his survival, much less about his ability to ever play ball again," says Elliott. "He not only recovered, he went on to win a college basketball scholarship."
Elliott says while this crisis brought his family to the brink of bankruptcy, they fought tooth and nail to pay the medical bills. He took on extra work and his wife even mowed lawns. Elliott hoped his story would inspire others going through similar difficulties with childhood illness and injuries.
The Court noted that upon meeting in May 2009, "Eberts told Elliott that he thought the story was wonderful and could see it becoming a blockbuster movie." Eberts touted connections and financial resources, and at the time was driving a Bentley and living in a $7 million mansion.
By the end of the year, Eberts had convinced Elliott to invest nearly half a million dollars to qualify for a "hedge fund investment," to retain "amazing crews, facilities, equipment" and "legal fees." Eberts also claimed he needed to pay screenwriter Howie Klausner for a script re-write.
"I did the re-write," says Klausner. "But it took forever to get a check from Eberts and when it finally came, it bounced."
Klausner shared his concerns about Eberts and the project's finances with Elliott and encouraged Elliott to meet with Klausner's attorneys at the Waterford Law Group. Litigation ensued and the Court ultimately found that Eberts had "preyed on Elliott's naivety of the movie business and was able to flaunt his industry connections and previous success to convince Elliott to provide funds for a movie that would never be made." The Court found that Eberts had fraudulently induced Elliott to invest funds in the Film exhibiting "a complete lack of any conscience in his action."
"In my 20 plus years in Hollywood, I've never seen anything like this," says Klausner, who co-wrote the Clint Eastwood hit, "Space Cowboys." "This isn't just a movie deal gone bad, this is outright theft and fraud."
Fortunately, our clients Elliott and Klausner have now teamed up to move forward to keep Elliott's dream alive. They are pursuing creative financing and other investors to try to make up for lost time.
The Waterford Law Group is a law firm located in historic Franklin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee. www.waterfordlaw.com.
SOURCE Waterford Law GroupBack to top