“We look forward to proceeding with discovery and then to trial,” the WGA told its members today of its yearlong legal battle with the Big 3 talent agencies. That’s despite a stinging, but not total, loss in court Monday, when a federal judge dismissed a large chunk of the guild’s antitrust lawsuit against WME, CAA and UTA. The agencies declared the ruling “a resounding victory.”
“Yesterday the federal judge handed down a decision on motions in the lawsuit the WGA filed against WME, CAA and UTA,” the guild’s negotiating committee told WGA members today. “He upheld some of our claims and dismissed others. The most disappointing of those dismissed was the racketeering charge. But the core claims of our lawsuit – namely, that packaging is a breach of fiduciary duty, and that the agencies have committed antitrust violations by fixing the price of those packages – those claims remain.
“While the agencies are predictably claiming victory in hopes of undermining member solidarity, in private they are not celebrating. This is not the ‘victory’ they predicted or that they needed, which was the complete dismissal of the lawsuit. Instead, six powerful claims that, in their scope, call into question the entirety of the packaging regime will now continue to trial. Discovery – which the agencies have reason to fear and which has already begun – will now proceed in force. The agencies will be required to defend, in public, those practices that for decades they sought to keep private. For those purposes, six claims is enough.
“Through all of this, our goal has always been the same, to realign agency economic interest with ours. This lawsuit remains powerful pressure in that direction. And it operates alongside our greatest asset: your solidarity in continuing to deprive the remaining unfranchised agencies of their writer clients.
“With the judge’s decision yesterday, there will be no lifeline to shield the agencies. We look forward to proceeding with discovery and then to trial.”
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