Richard Dillon, a retired NYPD detective and consultant on television programs, filed a lawsuit against NBCUniversal and 'Stars Earn Stripes' producers Dick Wolf and Mark Burnett last November, saying that the program idea was stolen from him.
In a ruling earlier this week in California, federal judge James Otero refused to throw out the suit, saying that he finds enough in the allegations to keep the lawsuit moving forward, with some minor modifications.
Dillon claims that he proposed the idea of a reality TV show with celebrities competing head-to-head in events that mimicked the training that Navy SEALS receive. Dillon and a co-creator, Jonathan Moss, reached out to TV producers about their idea. One of those men was David Hurwitz, who ended up becoming a co-creator on 'Stars Earn Stripes.' In August of 2011, on a conference call, Hurwitz praised Dillon's concept and later emailed him, saying that, "I look forward to reading the treatment and seeing if we can't make something happen."
He emailed Dillon later on, saying that he was too busy with his work on 'Fear Factor' to help, but wished them luck.
Unsurprisingly, he is also a co-defendant in the suit.
The claims from the defendants said that they did not have sufficient access to his treatment and that the material was not sufficiently similar to what ended up airing as 'Stars Earn Stripes.'
Otero was not buying that, writing that "Construing the allegations of the [First Amended Complaint liberally in favor of Plaintiff, it is reasonable to infer that Hurwitz shared the Treatment with Burnett and Wolf, as it is alleged that they worked together on the Program."
"Viewing the protectable elements of the works as a whole, the Court cannot conclude that they
are not substantially similar on the pleadings," Otero added. "This is especially true in light of the high degree of access alleged by Plaintiff—that Plaintiff and Moss provided a copy of the Treatment to Hurwitz."