Abraham Quintanilla Jr., the father of the late Tejano star Selena Quintanilla, scored a victory in his effort to block a television series based on the unauthorized book written by the artist’s husband, Chris Perez.
Last December, Abraham Quintanilla filed a lawsuit against Perez and the two production companies Blue Mariachi and Endemol Shine North American to stop the arrangements for a series based on his daughter’s life. Talks of the series adaptation came after the book “To Selena With Love” was published by her widower, Forbes magazine reported.
Quintanilla’s attorneys claimed that Perez breached the contract by writing an unauthorized book about his romance with Selena and signing a television series deal for profit, ignoring the terms of the 1995 agreement signed by Perez and Selena’s parents and two siblings two months after Selena’s murder.
Selena Quintanilla-Perez was shot by her fan club president, Yolanda Saldívar who is now serving life in prison. Selena did not leave a will before her death, but the singer had transferred certain property rights to her father.
The estate properties agreement clearly gave all the rights to Selena’s name, voice, signature, photograph, and likeness exclusively to Selena’s estate. As part of the settlement, anyone else was prohibited to “commercially exploit” a book, film, or TV movie about Selena’s life without previous consent from the father.
The agreement also entitles Perez to 25 percent of the net profits resulting from the exploitation of entertainment properties. Quintanilla’s lawyers said that Perez has received more than $1 million in conformity with the deal.
Perez had supposedly gotten the family’s support to write the book in 2012. However, Perez did not get special permission to adapt the written story for television. Just because he was able to release the book, it doesn’t entitle him to “rampantly run all over and trample the agreement,” reasoned Michael Trauben of Singh, Singh & Trauben, the law firm representing the family of the late Queen of Tejano music.
Afterward, Perez retaliated with a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in January. Perez’s lawyers wanted the lawsuit denied on the grounds of his client’s free speech rights. They also explained that the television series would be a depiction of Perez’s story, not falling within violation of the contract. Perez was married to the star from 1992 until her death.
Today, Texas Judge Guy Williams rejected it for Selena’s father, arguing that Perez’s lawyers failed to prove the litigation was a strategic lawsuit against public participation. The judge’s ruling meant that Quintanilla’s lawsuit could move forward.
“The Court has not yet entered a written order concerning today’s ruling on our client’s initial motion and as such we are not yet in a position to properly comment yet. Nevertheless, an adverse ruling on this preliminary procedural motion does not impact the larger issues in our clients’ case which will be vigorously defended and prosecuted,” commented after the hearing Eric S. Medina, a lawyer for Perez’s case.
Endemol’s spokespeople did not offer an official statement on today’s ruling.
Although there is not date yet for the trial to take place, Simran Singh, another attorney for the Quintanilla family, said they were very pleased with the outcome and will continue with their case to vindicate their rights.
The legal battle comes in the midst of planning for the third annual Fiesta de la Flor, a two-day annual festival that celebrates the life and legacy of Selena, scheduled for March 24 and 25 this year. Perez is not in the performance lineup, a decision made before they learned about news of the litigation, said Corpus Christi Convention and Visitors Bureau, CEO Paulette Kluge.