The Fifty Shades of Grey case is far from being put to bed.
State District Judge Susan McCoy said that is what she hoped when she signed an $11.5 million judgment for an Arlington woman who was involved in first publishing the smutty bestseller.
But the fight over how Jennifer Pedroza is going to actually collect that money — if at all — from Amanda Hayward, her former Australian business associate, is just beginning.
Just to remind you, Pedroza and Hayward and some other women were involved in the Writer’s Coffee Shop, an online blog that eventually morphed into the publishing house that initially printed the soft-core porn novel. Eventually, Random House stepped in and the book made more than $40 million for the group. Pedroza said Hayward cheated her out of her part of the royalties and a jury agreed.
Now Pedroza’s attorneys want McCoy to appoint a receiver who will help them take possession of cash and property to satisfy the judgment even before the expected appeal is filed.
Among the items they want: her home and three other houses, a hair salon, a sports academy and another commercial property, all of them bought with royalties. There are also bank accounts which hold more than $7 million in cash from Fifty Shades saga.
Since most of the assets are located in Australia, Michael Farris, Pedroza’s attorney, says going to the sheriff or a constable like you might in a typical collection case is not going to do her much good.
“I don’t think he is going to do anything because he has to comply with Australian law,” Farris said. The latest court filing “might be deemed as a little bit aggressive,” he said, “but it is a procedure that is available.”
He also is seeking an injunction to keep Hayward and her associates from liquidating the assets. “There is a very real risk that Hayward will act to conceal or transfer assets to avoid having to satisfy the judgment,” court records state.
Some might wonder if Farris is trying to push for a settlement and avoid all this.
Fort Worth attorney David Keltner, a former appeals court judge, is itching to challenge the idea that a legal partnership existed between the women. He wouldn’t comment on the receivership request. Farris has asked the court to rule at a hearing later this month.
“We are looking forward to the appeal and hope that there aren’t roadblocks to getting to that stage,” is all Keltner would say.