LOS ANGELES, Aug. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Browne George Ross O'Brien Annaguey & Ellis LLP, attorneys for Jackass film creator Bam Margera, today filed a lawsuit that alleges he was illegally fired from the upcoming Jackass Forever movie by Hollywood studios and producers so they could steal the popular and lucrative movie franchise and not compensate him.
Margera and his loan-out company, Bam Margera, Inc., filed the lawsuit today in Los Angeles Superior Court against Paramount Pictures, MTV, Jeffrey Tremaine, Philip John "P.J." Clapp (Johnny Knoxville), Adam H. Spiegel (Spike Jonze), Dickhouse Entertainment, Gorilla Flicks and others "to seek redress for Defendants' inhumane, abusive and discriminatory treatment of Plaintiff Margera, and for their wrongful termination of him from the Jackass franchise he created," the lawsuit states.
Margera seeks millions of dollars in compensation, a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent the film's release scheduled for Oct. 22, and damages.
Margera and his company are represented by attorneys Eric M. George, Dennis S. Ellis, Katherine F. Murray and Serli Polatoglu of the law firm of Browne George Ross O'Brien Annaguey & Ellis and longtime personal attorneys Alison Triessl, and Todd D. Thibodo.
"While Margera has given Jackass—quite literally—more than two decades worth of his blood, sweat and tears, the defendants have not repaid him in kind," said his attorney Eric M. George. "Rather, Margera, who has a documented history of mental health issues, including diagnosed bipolar disorder, has been the victim of unconscionable discrimination at the hands of defendants."
"I am pissed-off, angry, hurt, and shattered that Johnny (Knoxville), Jeff (Tremaine), Spike (Jonze) and the studios and producers ripped off my creativity, content, and stunts to make this movie, fired me without justification, and refuse to pay for my work; I created this franchise before any of these guys ever got involved," Margera said.
"My lawsuit isn't just about compensation. It's about treating people with mental health and addiction issues in an honest manner and not taking advantage of their disabilities to rip them off," Margera added.
Margera's long time personal attorney Alison Triessl is "appalled and saddened to learn that allegedly Bam's 'Jackass family' would go into a treatment facility to purportedly visit and support him only to find out they were there to take advantage of his vulnerable state."
Margera created Jackass long before the show hit MTV in 2000. Paramount and MTV have since made hundreds of millions of dollars to date on the popular TV and film franchise that was created, co-written, and produced by Margera, who came up with the vast majority of the franchise's most memorable content along with his CKY Crew.
The suit says that in March 2020, Paramount executed a contract with Margera for a fourth Jackass film. They conditioned Margera's participation and compensation on his adherence to a "Wellness Agreement."
The lawsuit states that "while Margera was in a rehabilitation facility in 2019, Jonze (his producer) and Knoxville (his co-star), accosted him and coerced him into signing the draconian "Wellness Agreement."
The pair told Margera if he did not sign then and there, he would be cut from all future installments of the Jackass films. This would cut off Margera's primary income, and sole means of supporting his family. Having no choice, as Knoxville and Tremaine would not permit him the opportunity to consult an attorney, Margera signed the agreement, according to the suit.
By August 2020, after Margera had already put considerable work into the movie, including filming scenes, developing dozens of ideas for inclusion in the film, the vast majority of which are being used in Jackass Forever, Paramount terminated Margera's contract, citing a purported violation of the "Wellness Agreement."
The "Wellness Agreement" obligated Margera to complete daily drug tests, multiple times per day, scheduled and unscheduled, requests for which could come in at any hour of the day or night, the suit says.
"Defendants went so far as to employ a doctor who Facetimed with Margera every morning to ensure Margera took the cocktail of pills that Paramount's medical team prescribed to him—pills that left him physically and mentally drained, depressed, and a shell of his former self," the suit states.
Margera knew the tiniest slip-up would end his career, so he was careful to follow every impossible demand imposed upon him—demands that were, by all accounts, legally unenforceable, as Margera's execution of the "Wellness Agreement" was procured by duress, his attorney George said.
Margera did not slip up, his suit says. He followed the provisions of the "Wellness Agreement" to a tee, at great personal cost. "Defendants' treatment of Margera exacerbated his mental health issues and led to suicidal thoughts. But still, Margera persevered—only to have the rug pulled out from under him," the lawsuit says.
"Defendants' wrongful termination of Margera stems from the fact that one of the numerous drug tests Margera was forced to submit to demonstrated that he was taking prescription Adderall. Defendants knew full well that Margera took Adderall to treat his attention deficit disorder. He had been on this medication for several years. But all of this notwithstanding, and without even giving Margera an opportunity to explain, Paramount fired him," according to the lawsuit.
"Paramount's inhumane treatment of Margera cannot be tolerated," his attorney George said. "He was made to endure psychological torture in the form of a sham "Wellness Agreement," and then ultimately terminated for his protected class status due to his medical condition, and his complaints about Defendants' discriminatory conduct towards him."
The suit says Margera was the only Jackass star terminated from the franchise for taking medication that he was prescribed--and that the studios and production companies were fully aware he was taking as part of his medical regimen.
Margera and his loan-out company seek compensation for violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, Unruh Civil Rights Act and Unfair Competition Law, as well as for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud and common law copyright infringement. Plaintiffs also seek a preliminary and permanent injunction, and declaratory relief.
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