A federal judge on Monday (April 27) dismissed most of the Writers Guild Of America’s (WGA) claims against the Hollywood agencies and said acceptance of packaging fees do not amount to illegal kickbacks from studios to agencies.
US District Court judge Andre Birotte Jr threw out eight of 14 of the WGA’s claims filed in its countersuit last autumn.
That suit came in response to an antitrust case filed by CAA, WME and UTA last summer in which the agencies said the Guild’s instructions to its members to fire their agents constituted an illegal boycott.
Judge Birotte Jr threw out WGA claims that packaging fees amount to illegal price-fixing, acceptance of packaging fees amount to illegal kickbacks under racketeering law, and that agencies violated antitrust law by working through their trade group, Association of Talent Agencies.
The judge denied a motion by CAA, WME and UTA to throw out the Guild’s claim of price-fixing under the Cartwright Act, and said a number of individual claimants could pursue legal action with regard to claims concerning breach of competition laws, fiduciary duty, and a breach of contract claim.
A trial date has been set for March 2021.
A statement released by the WGA on Monday night said, “We obviously would have preferred a complete victory. But the court’s decision assures that the Guild’s core claims, namely that packaging is a breach of fiduciary duty and that agencies have committed antitrust violations by fixing the price of those packages, will be explored through discovery, and ultimately in court. That’s what we wanted.
”There remain six powerful claims in our lawsuit that we will pursue, and discovery is underway. We are confident that the evidence uncovered in this process will support the claims detailed in our lawsuit.”