(CN) - Creators of the television show "Sister, Sister" say an understaffed California accounting firm missed $5 million in unpaid profit participation revenue from the show and drug out audit services for seven years.
Plaintiffs dePasse Jones, Swany Inc., Giggling Goose Productions Inc. and Fred Shafferman sued Sills & Adelman and its successors, Green Hasson Janks LLP and Sills & Gentille, in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The plaintiffs say the firm failed to properly audit their profit participation from the popular 1990s program, featuring twins Tia and Tamera Mowry.
Shafferman, Gary Gilbert and Sy Rosen created, and dePasse produced the show, which launched on ABC in 1994, aired on The WB from 1995 until 1999 and was syndicated by Paramount and CBS in 1998.
The plaintiffs say they signed independent contracts to receive 21.5 percent of the show's adjusted gross profits from approximately 1992 to 1994.
In 2001, the plaintiffs say they hired Los Angeles-based Sills & Adelman to audit the accounting statements for the show, including an audit of the production costs and a complete review of the show's distribution.
The plaintiffs say they paid the firm $27,500 for its services, and agreed to pay a second payment of the same amount upon completion of the audit.
Michelle Gentille, heading the audit, allegedly told Shafferman that the work "should, in all likelihood, reveal between 10 and 20 percent of under-reported income or unwarranted expenses incorrectly tabulated by Paramount's bookkeeping."
Paramount allegedly reported that the show was generating a profit in 2003, but Sills & Adelman failed to produce a final report, even though it worked on the audit from 2001 until 2007.
Gentille told the plaintiffs the audit was "on queue," the complaint states, but in 2007, the firm allegedly claimed the audit was delayed because of a "personal illness" or "medical situation."
Gentille said the firm finished the services in 2009, and said "they hadn't found that much," according to the lawsuit. Gentille added that "she did not think that the profit participants were entitled to any additional money from the show."
Gentille also told the plaintiffs not to worry about the remaining fee, the complaints states, and offered no reason for the discount.
Confused and disappointed, the plaintiffs say, Gilbert called Pete Ely, of CBS, who allegedly agreed to reimburse him $174,600.
"Mr. Ely also added that they (i.e., he as well as other at CBS/Paramount) found it strange that a representative from S&A had started to audit the records at the Paramount offices but then seemed to disappear," the complaint states.
Gentille ultimately sent the plaintiffs an audit report in August 2012, seven years after the audit was launched, which noted no significant discrepancy, the plaintiffs say.
In response, Gilbert agreed to the $174,600 settlement with CBS, he says, and sent the audit to another firm, an attorney and an independent auditor for review.
Gilbert says he met with an ex-Sills & Adelman employee, in 2010, who "indicated to Gilbert that she was not surprised that they [Sills & Adelman] found nothing since 'they didn't actually do a complete audit on 'Sister, Sister.'"
The woman allegedly added that, "S&A had too much work to perform and too few workers to do it during that time period," and said a former colleague "allegedly saved internal emails documenting her fear that clients were not being properly served by the understaffed company."
Gilbert says he received a report from the second auditor, Susannah Juni of Junico Services, in March 2011.
Juni listed "numerous troubling findings" in Sills & Adelman's audit, and said "that of the hundred of audits she had seen, including dozens from S&A, that this was the least complete, not addressing, explaining or asking for a multitude of items she would expect to see in a professional audit," the complaint states.
Gilbert is the sole owner of plaintiff Giggling Goose Productions. Sy Rosen is the owner and shareholder of plaintiff Swany.
Defendant Sills & Adelman, subsequently Sills & Gentille, is now a division of Green Hasson Janks LLP.
The plaintiffs seek $5 million in damages for professional negligence and are represented by Bradley Kramer.