CAA has filed a motion to dismiss the Writers Guild’s lawsuit against Hollywood’s top four talent agencies, asking LA Superior Court to remove the guild as a complainant. According to Deadline, CAA alleges that the lawsuit lacks standing under state law to represent members in such a case.
Back in April, the Writers Guild of America filed a lawsuit against Hollywood’s top four talent agencies, claiming that packaging fees — which are collected when bundling talent as a package to a studio or network — are unconstitutional and in violation of the Taft-Hartley Act.
According to Tony Segali of the WGAW general counsel, “All of the writer plaintiffs have been hurt financially by packaging deals. They are creators and writers of television shows that have shaped a generation, yet their agents have profited at the expense of their own clients.” The plaintiffs were seeking a judicial declaration that packaging fees are unlawful, as well as damages and repayment on behalf of writers who have been harmed by packaging fees.
CAA says that the Taft-Hartley Act — which makes it illegal for employers to “pay, lend, or deliver, or agree to pay, lend, or deliver, any money or other thing of value … to any representative of any of his employees who are employed in an industry affecting commerce” — does not apply to packaging fees.
In its latest filing, the CAA said: “The circumstances in which a union, like the WGA, may assert a claim on behalf of its members are limited. To do so, a union must establish that it has ‘associational standing,’ which requires proof that neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit.”
The CAA asserted that the Writers Guild “lacks standing to bring a cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty or constructive fraud on behalf of its 15,000 member-writers based on alleged violations by agents in connection with unknown thousands of unique transactions over a multi-decade period.”
According to CBS’s Cold Case creator Meredith Stiehm, her agency (CAA) negotiated a packing fee without her knowledge. Stiehm was not made aware of the deal until the show’s seventh season. “For every dollar that I made, (CAA) made 94 cents,” Stiehm said. “If an agency is taking $75,000 out of the budget every episode, that is money that can be spent on actors or sets or music. We had to take out music, we had to cut down to 17 episodes and we couldn’t shoot in Philadelphia. Season 7 was less of a season than it could have been.”
The CAA has responded to the suits brought by plaintiffs David Simon, Meredith Stiehm, Patricia Carr, Ashley Gable, Deric Hughes, and Barbara Hall, calling them “meritless.”
The other three talent agencies — which include UTA, WME, and ICM Partners — will have until June 24 to file their responses to the complaint.