Kirkland & Ellis remains centre stage as Spider-Man lawsuit continues in US

Kirkland & Ellis is yet to see the back of a long-running lawsuit between the producers of a Spider-Man musical and the show’s ex-director Julie Taymor, as a US judge sets a May trial date nearly five months after the pair announced a tentative settlement.

The Tony Award-winning director turned to New York-based firm Lankler Siffert & Wohl to represent her in the copyright infringement lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court of Manhattan shortly after Taymor was ousted from the big-budget show in March 2011.

“The musical’s producers removed Taymor from the production. Since then, they have continued to promote, use, change, and revise Taymor’s work, including her book of the musical,” the initial complaint read. “They have done so without her approval or authorization and in violation of their agreements with Taymor and Taymor’s intellectual property rights, including her right to approve changes to her book of the musical.”

The producers behind the show, 8 Legged Productions, filed a counterclaim against Taymor in January 2012 and both parties were believed to have reached an agreement in principle in August 2012. However, a final settlement is yet to be signed, despite an extended 9 January deadline set by US District Judge Katherine Forrest.

Judge Forrest has subsequently been forced to issue an order restoring the case.

In an email sent by the producers’ lawyer, Kirkland’s copyright, trademark and internet chief Dale Cendali, 8 Legged Productions and Cendali will continue working together on the case.

“We’re still working towards finishing the last details of the settlement,” Cendali told The Lawyer.

Cendali has previously advised Twentieth Century Fox, JK Rowling, Warner Brothers, The Walt Disney Company, IBM, Apple, Lionel Trains, Tetris Company, The Associated Press and Victoria’s Secret.

Taymor’s lead lawyer at Lankler Siffert & Wohl is named as partner Charles Spada, who joined the firm in 1992 and became partner in 1998.

It is understood that Taymor, who directed the popular stage adaption of The Lion King, was fired for breach of contract after she disagreed with changes designed to improve the show following bad reviews.