Bam Margera is taking his feud with his former friends from Jackass to court. On Monday, it was announced that attorneys for the former star of the franchise have filed a lawsuit against Paramount, MTV, Johnny Knoxville, and others. Margera alleges he was illegally fired from the upcoming sequel Jackass Forever by Hollywood studios and producers so they could “steal” the popular and lucrative movie franchise and not compensate him.
Per a press release, Bam Margera and his loan-out company, Bam Margera, Inc., filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court. The defendants named include Paramount Pictures, MTV, Jackass co-creator Jeff Tremaine, Philip John “P.J.” Clapp (aka Johnny Knoxville), Adam H. Spiegel (aka Spike Jonze), Dickhouse Entertainment, Gorilla Flicks, and others. The lawsuit states that Bam is seeking “redress for Defendants’ inhumane, abusive and discriminatory treatment of Plaintiff Margera, and for their wrongful termination of him from the Jackass franchise he created.”
Bam wants millions of dollars in compensation, a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent the movie’s release on Oct. 22, and damages. Representing the former Jackass star are his attorneys Eric M. George, Dennis S. Ellis, Katherine F. Murray and Serli Polatoglu of the law firm of Browne George Ross O’Brien Annaguey & Ellis. Longtime personal attorneys Alison Triessl and Todd D. Thibodo are also involved.
“While Margera has given Jackass-quite literally-more than two decades worth of his blood, sweat and tears, the defendants have not repaid him in kind,” said George in a statement. “Rather, Margera, who has a documented history of mental health issues, including diagnosed bipolar disorder, has been the victim of unconscionable discrimination at the hands of defendants.”
“I am p-ssed-off, angry, hurt, and shattered that Johnny (Knoxville), Jeff (Tremaine), Spike (Jonze) and the studios and producers ripped off my creativity, content, and stunts to make this movie, fired me without justification, and refuse to pay for my work; I created this franchise before any of these guys ever got involved,” Margera added. “My lawsuit isn’t just about compensation. It’s about treating people with mental health and addiction issues in an honest manner and not taking advantage of their disabilities to rip them off.”
Triessl also stated that she is “appalled and saddened to learn that allegedly Bam’s ‘Jackass family’ would go into a treatment facility to purportedly visit and support him only to find out they were there to take advantage of his vulnerable state.”
The suit states that Margera created Jackass long before the show premiered on MTV in 2000. In the years since, the franchise has made hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, which was “created, co-written, and produced by Margera, who came up with the vast majority of the franchise’s most memorable content along with his CKY Crew.” Margera’s lawyers also allege that Bam was coerced into signing a “Wellness Agreement” in March 2020 as a way of executing his contract while he was vulnerable.
“While Margera was in a rehabilitation facility in 2019, Jonze (his producer) and Knoxville (his co-star), accosted him and coerced him into signing the draconian ‘Wellness Agreement,'” the suit reads. Margera was allegedly told by the pair that if he didn’t sign immediately, he would be cut from all future Jackass installments, and alleges he was barred from first consulting his attorney before signing the agreement.
In August 2020, Margera was fired after putting considerable work into the movie, including filming scenes and developing dozens of ideas for other scenes. He claims that the “vast majority” of his ideas made it into the movie. In any case, Margera was fired with Paramount citing a purported violation of the “Wellness Agreement,” something else that he denies.
This “Wellness Agreement” mandated Margera to complete daily drug tests multiple times a day, both scheduled and unscheduled. These requests could come in at any hour of the day or night. Margera says he was careful to follow every demand imposed upon him, even though the demands are “legally unenforceable” as the agreement was procured by duress.
“Defendants went so far as to employ a doctor who Facetimed with Margera every morning to ensure Margera took the cocktail of pills that Paramount’s medical team prescribed to him-pills that left him physically and mentally drained, depressed, and a shell of his former self,” the suit states. “Defendants’ treatment of Margera exacerbated his mental health issues and led to suicidal thoughts. But still, Margera persevered-only to have the rug pulled out from under him.”
The complaint adds: “Defendants’ wrongful termination of Margera stems from the fact that one of the numerous drug tests Margera was forced to submit to demonstrated that he was taking prescription Adderall. Defendants knew full well that Margera took Adderall to treat his attention deficit disorder. He had been on this medication for several years. But all of this notwithstanding, and without even giving Margera an opportunity to explain, Paramount fired him.”
“Paramount’s inhumane treatment of Margera cannot be tolerated,” his attorney George said. “He was made to endure psychological torture in the form of a sham ‘Wellness Agreement,’ and then ultimately terminated for his protected class status due to his medical condition, and his complaints about Defendants’ discriminatory conduct towards him.”
The suit also says Margera was the only Jackass star terminated from the franchise for taking medication that he was prescribed–and that the studios and production companies were fully aware he was taking as part of his medical regimen.
Margera and his loan-out company seek compensation for violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, Unruh Civil Rights Act, and Unfair Competition Law, as well as for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud and common law copyright infringement. Plaintiffs also seek a preliminary and permanent injunction, and declaratory relief.
As of now, Jackass Forever is scheduled to be released in theaters on Paramount Pictures on Oct. 22, 2021. It remains to be seen if this lawsuit will affect the sequel’s release. Paramount has not yet offered an official comment.