Like any producer worth their salt, Rodrigo Teixeira tried to make a deal to solve a problem. When those December 14 talks in the fraud lawsuits from Sao Paulo financier Luiz Mussnich failed, the Call My By Your Name producer hit back in court with a hardcore motion to dismiss.
“With his Complaint in the present action, Plaintiff Luiz Mussnich, a Brazilian citizen residing in Brazil, spews vindictive personal attacks against Defendant Rodrigo Teixeira, another Brazilian citizen residing in Brazil, claiming that Plaintiff’s association with Defendant Teixeira and RT Features has ruined Plaintiff’s self-proclaimed ‘strong reputation’ as a ‘professional’ in the management of finances,” says the December 21 filing in federal court from the RT Features and his Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro lawyers (read it here).
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“However, Plaintiff disregards his own unsavory history,” the motion to toss Mussnich’s $16 million case out says. “The crucial fact Plaintiff intentionally failed to reveal in his Complaint – and purposefully never disclosed to Teixeira or RT Features – is that he destroyed his own reputation long ago, when he received a five-year prison sentence from the Brazilian government for securities and tax fraud.”
Taking that bodyslam as the starting point, Teixeira’s motion becomes as relentless as 2019’s Ad Astra, which he also produced.
Long lawsuit short: While acknowledging that the movie business can run hot and cold, Teixeira and his attorneys G. Jill Basinger and Steve Basileo insist that the Brazilian-based producer, “despite the long odds of success in the film business, especially involving a company over 6,000 miles away from Hollywood,” makes critically and commercially successful movies. Additionally while not declaring himself an alter boy and fessing up that not every release is an Oscar winning hit like the Luca Guadagnino directed Name, Teixeria proclaims he doesn’t mess around with his investors’ money. In that vein, Mussnich’s accusations to the contrary are a false and “imagined scheme.”
Mussnich, on the other hand, claims that since 2009 Teixeira has been hustling him with “a shell game involving intellectual property rights rather than traditional stocks, bonds, or debt instruments” to sucker investors and lives the high life. “Mussnich has been seriously damaged reputationally as Teixeira exploited Mussnich’s business partners, wealthy Brazilian families, and even Mussnich’s own family to obtain tens of millions of dollars in what turned out to be worthless investments,” says the wide spread damages October 21 complaint that kicked this all off.
Undoubtedly and sadly you’ve heard this tale before of how the big screen bright lights blinded some to the risks they may be taking with their money in search of “the big payoff.” Citing other suits in Brazil and elsewhere against Teixeria and RT (some settled, some not), Mussinch alleges that RT’s US accountant and defendant Joseph Gues told him “that Teixeira and RT would routinely settle cases with disgruntled investors by taking investor funds allocated for other projects to fund the settlement.”
Portraying Mussinch as a very disgruntled investor himself, the motion to dismiss basically calls foul on the jury seeking initial complaint and the plaintiff’s indignation.
“He also alleges that for years he somehow remained blissfully unaware that these numerous investments that he brokered for his closest business and personal relationships were non-performing, and it was not until some time within the past three years that he learned of, and investigated, these issues,” the filing from the high profile indie producer says of Mussinch’s litigious outrage.
Moving from the subjective to the objective, the motion to dismiss adds: Plaintiff’s Complaint also disregards a basic tenet of jurisprudence: one needs to state a legal cause of action in order to successfully pursue litigation. For a host of reasons, Plaintiff’s Complaint falls well short of the mark.
Mussinch’s US lawyer Arash Sadat did not respond to request for comment on the motion to dismiss his client’s case
Teixeira’s Hollywood heavyweight Glaser Weil attorneys want the motion to dismiss with prejudice to be argued in front of Judge Marc Scarsi in DTLA on January 25 next year.
Happy New Year.