Charlie Kessler is suing the Duffer brothers for breach of implied contract. He claims that he pitched them his concept for a sci-fi story set near an abandoned military base during a party at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
In the lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles, Kessler accuses the Stranger Things creators of “misappropriation, unauthorized use and exploitation” of his 2012 short film, Montauk, and his script for The Montauk Project.
Kessler describes his film as a “science fiction story set in the town of Montauk, New York, the location of various urban legends and paranormal and conspiracy theories” with the primary location of the story as an “abandoned military base.”
Kessler’s lawyer Michael Kernan argues that the 2014 pitch at the party created an implied-in-fact contract.
“After the massive success of Stranger Things … Defendants have made huge sums of money by producing the series based on Plaintiff’s Concepts,” writes Kernan.
Kessler is asking for monetary damages and is demanding a jury trial. He is also seeking an injunction ordering the Duffers to stop using his concepts and to destroy all materials based on those concepts.
The Duffers responded through their lawyer, Alex Kohner, who said, “Mr. Kessler’s claim is completely meritless. He had no connection to the creation or development of Stranger Things. The Duffer brothers have neither seen Mr. Kessler’s short film nor discussed any project with him. This is just an attempt to profit from other people’s creativity and hard work.”
Netflix has declined to comment on the matter.