A jury ruled in favor of Michael Jordan on Thursday in a breach-of-contract lawsuit that accused him of breaking a deal to star in a 1991 basketball movie that ended up flopping without him.
The Cook County jury, also ruling on a counterclaim Jordan filed, found the producers of Heaven is a Playground falsely informed the Bulls superstar they had obtained sufficient financing for the film.
The jury awarded Jordan $50,000 in compensatory damages for the fee Jordan was paid -- and then gave back -- to Heaven Corp. He was awarded no punitive damages.
The jury deliberated about seven hours.
Jordan, who sat in the courtroom nearly every day, testified he didn't refuse to appear in the movie and both sides agreed to postpone filming, which was to have started in 1989.
Filmmakers Randy Fried and Keith Bank alleged that Jordan, swayed by agent David Falk, was holding out for a better opportunity than the $350,000 he was to have received.
| Michael Jordan came out a winner in the eyes of the jury. (AP) |
The movie received no national distribution and went almost straight to video after earning just $3 million.
The plaintiffs argued that Jordan could have made the film a blockbuster, status it didn't achieve with his role going to former Loyola Marymount basketball star Bo Kimble.
"Doesn't have the same ring, does it?" plaintiffs' lawyer Dean Dickie said during the trial.
Falk, Jordan's longtime agent, initially was listed as a defendant but Judge Richard Neville ordered him removed from the case because he was acting under Jordan's authorization.
Dickie, who acknowledged that putting Jordan on trial in Chicago was akin to "trying God in Heaven," instead tried to shift the focus to Falk, portraying him as a greedy wheeler-dealer who had no qualms bout backing out of the deal when it became clear Jordan could do better.
Jordan ended up making his feature-film debut in 1996 in Space Jam, which was indeed a box-office blockbuster.
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