Relatives of the late Jenni Rivera lost a round in court Monday when a judge ruled that her attorneys cannot have some additional information from producers of a Univision television show based on the life of the late singer-actress in advance of a hearing on a motion by the those behind the series to dismiss the case.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Raphael said the validity of the contract between Jenni Rivera Enterprises and the entertainer's former manager, Pete Salgado, is at the heart of the family's lawsuit against Salgado and the producers and not the information sought by JRE's lawyers.
"I don't see this discovery going to the central issue in this case," Raphael said.
The series, "Her Real Name Was Dolores," is based on a book written by Rivera's former manager Pete Salgado. JRE sued Salgado Sept. 12, alleging his book and participation in the series violate a non-disclosure agreement.
Salgado alleges the agreement was forged. Other defendants in the suit are Latin World Entertainment Holdings and co-producers BTF Media and Dhana Media.
Lawyers for the producers have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on free-speech grounds under California's anti-SLAPP statute, saying a series about Rivera's life is a matter of public interest.
A so-called strategic lawsuit against public participation complaint is one which is allegedly intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense. After the producers filed their anti-SLAPP motion, a hold was put on information sharing between the parties in the case.
JRE's lawyers stated in their court papers that they needed a limited amount of details from the producers in order to adequately fight the anti-SLAPP motion. They stated in their documents that they "cannot discern what information was disclosed by Salgado to the (producers), when it was disclosed and whether the (producers) knew about the (non-disclosure agreement) at the times those disclosures took place."
JRE had no contact with the producers when Salgado "was engaged in breaches" of the non-disclosure agreement, so "none of the information in their possession is within plaintiff's possession,'' the JRE lawyers state in their court papers.
Salgado's lawyers have lent their support to the producers' anti-SLAPP motion, which is scheduled for hearing before Raphael on Dec. 19.
A 1969 Learjet 25 with Rivera and members of her entourage aboard crashed on Dec. 9, 2012 — 15 minutes after takeoff — in the mountains of northern Mexico. The 43-year-old singer had just performed in Monterrey and was on her way to Mexico City to appear on the Mexican version of "The Voice."
Rivera dominated the banda style of regional Mexican music popular in California and northwestern Mexico. She was one of the biggest stars on Mexico television and was popular on "regional Mexican" stations in California.