Model Anna Cleveland, Next Models Sued for Breaching Film Deal

Model Anna Cleveland — daughter of supermodel Pat Cleveland — and Next Model Management have been named in a new $350,000+ lawsuit, accusing them failing to make good on a contract that Cleveland had with Los Angeles production company All in the Works LLC (“AITW”) to film a documentary on the budding model’s life and career.

According to AITW’s complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, a federal court in Manhattan, Cleveland “granted AITW the exclusive motion picture, television and related rights in her life story in furtherance of the creation by AITW of a documentary film concerning her.” Moreover, Cleveland allegedly agreed “to be available to AITW during all option periods, to be interviewed on camera in connection with the production, assist AITW in obtaining the on-camera appearances of various third parties, and otherwise consult with AITW” in furtherance of the project.

AITW alleges that while Cleveland “initially cooperated with AITW with regard to the creation of the film,” she became completely unavailable in September 2016, “a critical period for AITW's documentary storyline, as both Ms. Cleveland and AITW were then in Europe for the Spring 2017 Paris and Milan fashion shows. It was around this time that AITW claims that Next, Cleveland’s agency, “induced Ms. Cleveland's contractual breaches and interfered with the agreement” between her and AITW.

The complaint further alleges: “Through [Cleveland’s] utter failure to comply with her contractual obligations to AITW to make herself available for filming and other activities related to AITW's planned documentary - and by engaging in certain other conduct in blatant violation of the exclusive contractual rights granted to AITW - Ms. Cleveland, encouraged by and acting under the direction and inducement of Next, has effectively destroyed AITW's film project and caused significant damage to AITW."

As a result of the aforegoing, AITW has asserted claims of breach of contract against Cleveland, and tortious interference with contractual relations against Next, and is seeking an array of monetary damages.

Interestingly, AITW has not specifically asked the court for injunctive relief (a court order requiring a person or business entity to do or cease doing a specific action), which, in the case at hand, would require Cleveland to fulfill her contractual obligations and in short: finish the film. While courts are vested with wide discretion to fashion injunctive relief, they are bound to a balancing test that weighs the benefits that such a ruling would bestow upon the party seeking the injunction and the hardship to the party that must fulfill it.

With this in mind, court orders to compel specific performance of an act – a particularly harsh remedy – are not often favored by courts. In fact, they only rarely grant them. And when they are granted, such injunctions are generally issued to compel the removal of buildings or other structures wrongfully placed upon the land of another, and not in furtherance of compelling a party to complete a job. 

* The case is All in the Works, LLC v. Cleveland et al, 1:16-CV-09891.