WGA Slammed By ATA As “Desperate” After “Constructive Fraud” Claim Added To Packaging Suit Against CAA, ICM Partners, UTA & WME
By Dominic Patten Senior Editor, Legal & TV Critic
May 20, 2019 11:48pm
Just days before the Big 4 agencies were facing a deadline to respond to the Writers Guild of America’s anti-packaging lawsuit of last month, the Guild has amended their initial filing late Monday with a constructive fraud claim that the Association of Talent Agents has quickly repudiated.
“This is a desperate attempt by the WGA to keep their utterly meritless legal battle alive,” a spokesperson for the ATA told Deadline tonight after the WGA filed to reload legally.
”Today’s action by the WGA is further evidence that Guild leadership had no intent to pursue a negotiated solution with the ATA, instead opting for a long and costly legal process that was completely avoidable.”
READ THE FULL ATA STATEMENT BELOW:
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Coming out of talks between the WGA and ATA over the lucrative and long established practice of packaging collapsing last month and the thousands of Guild members pink slipping their agents in short order, the original lawsuit was put on the LASC docket on April 17.
Speaking for all the defendants at the time that same day, non-defendant the ATA and its executive director Karen Stuart right off the bat called the original 25-page filing part of the WGA’s “predetermined path to chaos that never included any intention to negotiate.”
Tonight’s addition of the constructive fraud claim by the WGA came, in part, I’m told, because defendants CAA, WME, UTA and ICM Partners are planning their own Spitfire court moves. Lawyers for all of the Big 4 made it very clear in recent days to the Guild that they intend to file motions to toss the case based on what they individually and collectively believe are serious flaws in the case.
The WGA did not response to request for comment by Deadline tonight on the new amendment in what is now a three-claim case.
Almost an oxymoron of sorts, the California law “breach of duty” definition of “constructive fraud” in the WGA’s now amended complaint is further cited as the “failure of a fiduciary to disclose a material fact to his principal that might affect the fiduciary’s motives or the principal’s decision constitutes constructive fraud, regardless of whether the fiduciary acted with fraudulent intent.”
Which is a long-ish way of saying the WGA West, the WGA East and fellow plaintiffs like The Deuce EP David Simon believe that WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners didn’t tell their scribe clients that they were on the prowl for a big fat payout on specifically packaged projects – and that was wrong.
The other side see it another way.
“The WGA’s litigation is a publicity stunt and now they are in strategic retreat,” said CAA’s counsel, Richard Kendall in an additional statement tonight sideswiping the Guild’s legal position. “This amendment will delay, but not avoid, the court’s anticipated dismissal of the WGA’s case,” the Kendall Brill & Kelly partner declared. “Then, one hopes, the parties will return to the bargaining table, where they belong.”
As the traditional methods of representation and, let’s be honest, the business of show business start to fray, the two sides haven’t formally sat down in well over a month as this drama has played out. At the same time for all the political heat in Hollywood, the next hearing in the case isn’t even scheduled until October 21, which doesn’t exactly reek of urgency either.
In that context:
READ THE FULL ATA STATEMENT BELOW
This is a desperate attempt by the WGA to keep their utterly meritless legal battle alive. Today’s action by the WGA is further evidence that Guild leadership had no intent to pursue a negotiated solution with the ATA, instead opting for a long and costly legal process that was completely avoidable.
It is ironic that the Guild is accusing these agencies of fraud when in reality, it is Guild leadership who have misled their members into believing they are trying to make a deal. Unfortunately, it’s those members who will be footing this bill with their own membership dues, and who will have to continue without agent representation.
Despite the Guild’s tactics, we remain committed to a solution for writers and agents. We are still waiting for a formal counteroffer from the Guild, and urge writers to ask their leadership to come back to the table.
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